Juveniles and Juvenilia: teaching gifted secondary students

Stream: Teaching Juvenilia
Date: Friday, 22 July 2022
Time: 1.00 pm – 2.30 pm


Pamela Nutt and Christine Alexander have worked for several years with small groups of gifted secondary students, introducing them to the value of literary juvenilia, providing them with experience in textual transmission, and producing volumes for the Juvenilia Press. Understanding how these students, themselves juveniles, engage with the writing of other young writers and how they develop critical insight clearly demonstrates the value of such a program. In the varying stages of research, editing and production, students engage not only with new knowledge and skills, but also with the interests of a tertiary institution accessible to them. By reflecting on how these talented juveniles respond to a particular writer, to a study of context, and to choices about representation of text, the paper will argue for the value of engaging such young people with the early writings of significant authors, while still maintaining the academic standards of the Juvenilia Press project. Our latest edition, Selected Early Poems of Felicia Hemans, will be used as an example, and the work of some of these students will be examined to evaluate the benefits of their particular involvement.

CHRISTINE ALEXANDER, Emeritus Scientia Professor of English at UNSW Sydney, has directed the Juvenilia Press for the last twenty years. Her work in juvenilia includes Masters courses on juvenilia; editions for the Juvenilia Press, produced with students; The Child Writer from Austen to Woolf (co-edited with Juliet McMaster); and a Penguin edition of Jane Austen’s Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings. She has published extensively on the Brontës, including The Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë, An Edition of the Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë, and an edition of the Brontës’ Tales of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal. Co-authored works include The Art of the Brontës (with Jane Sellars), The Oxford Companion to the Brontës (with Margaret Smith), and Celebrating Charlotte Brontë: transforming life into literature in Jane Eyre (with Sara Pearson).

PAMELA NUTT is a former Head of English and Dean of Students at Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney. She has edited five volumes for Juvenilia Press with her students, and with Christine Alexander’s mentorship. Four of these volumes have been drawn from late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Australia. Most recently, with co-editor Christine Alexander, she and her students have produced a volume on the early poetry of Felicia Human, and she is currently working with students to produce a volume of early writings by Australian playwright, David Williamson. Pamela has also presented papers on the juvenilia of Australian poets Rosemary Dobson and Judith Wright.