The present collection gathers the most exemplary and influential essays from Felman's oeuvre, including articles previously untranslated into English. The Claims of Literature also includes responses to Felman's work by leading contemporary theorists, including Stanley Cavell, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Cathy Caruth, Juliet Mitchell, Winfried Menninghaus, and Austin Sarat.
It concludes with a section on Felman as a teacher, giving transcripts of two of her classes, one at Yale in September 2001, the other at Emory in December 2004.
The book has three sections—the first, on picturebooks; the second, on chapter books; and the third, on two sets of paired readings of two very popular picturebooks. By means of its three sections, the book sets forth as its goal to show how philosophy can be helpful in reappraising books aimed at children from early childhood on. Particularly in the third section, the book emphasizes how philosophy can help to multiply the type of interpretative stances that are possible when readers listen again to what they thought they knew so well.
The kinds of questions this book raises are the following: How are children’s books already anticipating or articulating philosophical problems and discussions? How does children’s literature work by means of philosophical puzzles or language games? What do children’s books reveal about the existential situation the child reader faces?
In posing and answering these kinds of questions, the readings within the book thus intersect with recent, developing scholarship in children’s literature studies as well as in the psychology and philosophy of childhood.