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Yale University Library News, Events and Exhibits: The World in Pictures: Illustrated Children's Books in 19th and Early 20th Century Germany The World in Pictures: Illustrated Children's Books in 19th and Early 20th Century Germany

A new exhibit currently on display in the Sterling Memorial Library Nave highlights the distinctive and colorful German tradition of illustrated books for children from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In Central Europe, the tradition of children’s literature developed out of 17th century utopian aspirations. A Moravian pastor and educator, Jan Komensky Comenius, believed not only that universal education would produce a utopian society, but also that aspiring learners needed to use their senses to observe objects before it would be possible to grasp them in words. His influential Orbis Sensualium Pictus (1658; translated into English in 1659 as A World of Things Obvious to the Sense), developed a pedagogy through pictures, and lastingly shaped a model of children's literature in which images played a central role.

Throughout the 19th century, illustrated books were considered a crucial means of socialization and political education and this was certainly true in Germany. Illustrated fairy tales, both those collected by the Brothers Grimm and those composed by nineteenth and early 20th century authors, are amongst the many examples of illustrated works produced during this time, some of which are on display in the exhibit. Some other examples include educational picture books, sentimental and instructive material and even the well-known Struwwelpeter with its alternately punitive and moralizing content.

The display concludes with the efflorescence of picture books during the early decades of the 20th century and considers the many overlaps between visual modernism and children’s literature.

The exhibit will remain on show in Sterling Memorial Library until the end of October. There will also be a public lecture entitled "The Politics of Picture Books: Illustrated Children's Literature in 19th and Early 20th-Century Germany" on Wednesday October 26th at 1pm in the library’s lecture hall.

For more information, please contact: Katie Trumpener

Location: SML

Start Date: August 1st-October 31st


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Page Last Updated: 4/20/2014
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