Body is a noun, though it was a verb: “To give form, shape, or physical presence to; to embody. Now chiefly literary or poet” (OED). The OED gives five definitions for the noun: the “physical form of a person, animal, or plant”; the “main portion, the trunk”; “a person”; “a collective mass”; and “substance, matter, a portion of matter.” Then the OED traces the etymology of the word back to “Old High German botah: body, corpse, trunk (of the body).” Additionally, the OED finds that “the sense development has been influenced by association with classical Latin corpus,” which leads to body in the sense of a body of literature, or “a compendium of writings on a subject, textbook (e.g. corpus i_ū_ris law textbook).” The OED’s five core definitions all emphasize physicality and dominance, the concrete and the aggregate, the literal and the central or prevailing. These definitions highlight two key debates in the field of children’s literature and culture: the way children’s literature represents the physical body of the child and how we understand the body of texts we call children’s literature. Both debates have to do with the normative, an association that can be traced back to the OED’s...

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