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Waters: The Little Stranger

3. Children and Trespass

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the presentation of children in The Little Stranger, focusing in particular on: (i) Caroline’s resentment of children and the reasons for it; (ii) the scene in which Mrs Ayres is tormented by what she believes is the ghost of her daughter, Susan; and (iii) the origins and significance ‘the little stranger’, a term coined by Simone de Beauvoir in her highly influential 1949 work, The Second Sex.


In this course, Professor Lucie Armitt (University of Lincoln) explores Sarah Waters’ 2009 novel, the Little Stranger. We begin by thinking about the novel as a haunted house narrative, focusing in particular on what, if anything, the house is actually haunted by. After that, we think about the social and political reforms that were at work in the mid- to late 1940s, the period in which the novel is set, and the ways in which the reflects on these changes, before turning in the third module to the representation of children in the novel. In the fourth module, we provide a close reading of the scene in chapter five in which Roderick encounters the ghost, before moving on in the fifth module to think about the representation of communications technology in the novel – particularly the telephone and the speaking tube. Finally, in the sixth module, we focus on the narrator of the novel, Dr Faraday: is he as trustworthy and impartial as he would like us to believe?


Lucie Armitt is a Professor in Contemporary English Literature at the University of Lincoln. She is a specialist in the fields of contemporary women’s writing, the literary fantastic and the Gothic. She is an Associate Editor of the award-winning OUP journal Contemporary Women’s Writing and founding Treasurer of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Armitt, L. (2019, October 07). Waters: The Little Stranger - Children and Trespass [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Armitt, L. "Waters: The Little Stranger – Children and Trespass." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Oct 2019,