As a survey of classical and contemporary children’s literature, emphasis is on the development of critical theory within the study of children’s literature and its place in the world of the child. Students will read children’s and adolescent literature that allow for classroom discussions about the values of aesthetics in literature designed for young readers. In addition, students will consider whether internationalism in children’s literature promotes aesthetic understanding or provides efferent readings of other social and religious traditions.
This class will have a discussion format that will provide for point/counterpoint analysis. As the professor, I hope we can construct knowledge throughout the semester. It will not be my role to deliver knowledge but rather to facilitate learning. At our first session, students will choose either to be in Group A or Group B based upon their reading preferences. Books have been placed together because they have been instrumental in shaping attitudes about children’s literature.
As a group, we will determine what each book’s importance might be. Occasionally we will all read the same books (see weeks without A. and B. notations). These weeks will allow us to regroup and consider the particular elements of children’s literature that distinguish it from other literature and to enumerate the role of theory in children’s literature. At the end of each class session, we will formulate questions that can shape our reading for the following week.
All participants in this class will complete a research paper that would be appropriate for a children’s literature conference presentation. Topics will be chosen to fit individual interests. Literary scholarship and children’s literature will frame the paper. Papers will be handed in during Week Twelve. Selected papers will be presented during the last session.
Week Two (January 14): Taking Sides: Classical Vs Popular Literature
A.) George MacDonald. The Princess and the Goblin. Dover Publications.
B.) Winsor McCay. Little Nemo in the Palace of Ice and Further Adventures. Dover Publications.
All) Perry Nodelman. “Introduction: Matthew Arnold, a Teddy Bear, and a List of Touchstones.” (Touchstones: Reflections on the Best in Children’s Literature. Volume One: 1 12.)
All) Jill P. May. “A Tale of Two Cities: Criticism and Children’s Literature.” (Journal of Children’s Literature. Volume 24: 8 21.)
Week Three (January 28): Maurice Sendak
A.) Else Holmelund Minarik. Little Bear boxed set of three paperback editions: Little Bear ; Father Bear Comes Home ; and Little Bear’s Visit. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. HarperTrophy.
B.) E. T. A. Hoffmann. Nutcracker. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Three Rivers Press.
All) Maurice Sendak. “Sources of Inspiration.” (The Zena Sutherland Lectures, 1983 1992, 1 25.)
Week Four (February 4): Literary Theory
All) Jonathan Culler. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
Week Five (February 11): Audience Reception
A.) Tor Seidler. Mean Margaret. Illustrated by Jon Agee. Laura Geringer Books.
A.) Robyn McCallum. “Subjectivity and History.” (Ideologies of Identity in Adolescent Fiction: The Dialogic Construction of Subjectivity, 167 201.)
B.) Avi. Poppy. Illustrated by Brian Floca. HarperTrophy.
B.) Roger Sale. “The Audience in Children’s Literature.” (Bridges to Fantasy, 78 89.)
Week Six (February 18): Animal Fantasy
A.) Kenneth Grahame. The Wind in the Willows. Dover Publications.
A.) Elliott Gose. “The Emergence of the Trickster.” (Mere Creatures: A Study of Modern Fantasy Tales for Children, 42 52.)
B.) Brooks Hansen. Caesar’s Antlers. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
B.) Jill P. May. “The Year in Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1990.” (Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annual 1991, 178 204.)
Week Seven (February 25): Boys’ Stories
A.) John R. Tunis. All American. Harcourt Children’s Books.
B.) David Almond. Kit’s Wilderness. Laurel Leaf Books.
All) Maria Nikolajeva. “Metafiction in Children’s Literature.” (Children’s Literature Comes of Age: Toward a New Aesthetic, 189 206.)
Week Eight (March 4): Girls’ Stories
A.) Johanna Spyri. Heidi. Dover Publications.
A.) Northrop Frye. “The Archetypes of Literature.” (Literary Criticism and Myth. Volume 24: 92 110.)
B.) Suzanne Fisher Staples. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. Laurel Leaf Books.
B.) Daniel Madigan and Amina Ahmad. “Who Is the Real Shabanu?: A Critical Response.” (Journal of Children’s Literature. Volume 21: 34 37.)
Week Nine (March 18): Black History
All) Lessie Jones Little. Children of Long Ago. Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. Introduction by Eloise Greenfield. Lee and Low Books.
All) William Miller. Richard Wright and the Library Card. Illustrated by Gregory Christie. Lee and Low Books.
All) Jim O’Connor. Jackie Robinson and the Story of All Black Baseball. Illustrated by Jim Butcher. Random House Young Readers Group.
All) Shauna Bigham and Robert E. May. “The Time o’ All Times?: Masters, Slaves, and Christmas in the Old South.” (Journal of the Early Republic. Volume 18: 263 288.)
Week Ten (March 25): Ethnicity and Realism
A.) Anna Sewell. Black Beauty. Scholastic.
A.) Peter Hollindale. “Plain Speaking: Black Beauty as a Quaker Text.” (Children’s Literature. Volume 28: 95 111.)
B.) Polly Berrien Berends. The Case of the Elevator Duck. Illustrated by Diane Allison. Random House Young Readers Group.
B.) Darwin Henderson. “Tom Feelings: Moving Within a Restricted Form.” (TELLing Stories: Theory, Practice, Interviews, and Reviews. Volume 2:1, 2 4.)
All) Karen Sands O’Connor. “Anything to Suit Customers: Antislavery and Little Women.” (Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. Volume 26: 33 38.)
Week Eleven (April 1): North America
All) Bill Richardson. After Hamelin. Annick Press.
All) Roderick McGillis. “Class Action: Politics and Critical Practice.” (The Nimble Reader: Literary Theory and Children’s Literature, 102 128.)
All) Jill P. May. “They’re Still Family Heroes: Robin Hood and Popeye in Feature Length Films.” (The Antic Art: Enhancing Children’s Literary Experiences Through Film and Video, 51 62.)
Week Twelve (April 8): The Middle East
A.) Daniella Carmi. Samir and Yonatan. Translated by Yael Lotan. Scholastic.
B.) Liyana Badr. A Balcony Over the Fakihani. Translated by Peter Clark with Christopher Tingley. Interlink Publishing.
All) Ursula K. Le Guin. “The Child and the Shadow.” (The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, 54 67.)
All) Kristen Lems. “Beyond Boundaries: The Arab World and Arab Americans.” (Book Links. November 1999: 31-39.)
Week Thirteen (April 15): Uri Shulevitz
All) Uri Shulevitz. Dawn. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All) Uri Shulevitz. The Secret Room. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All) Howard Schwartz, Editor. Lilith’s Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural. Illustrated by Uri Shulevitz. Oxford University Press.
All) Sonia Landes and Molly Flender. BookWise Literature Guide to: One Monday Morning by Uri Shulevitz. Educators Publishing Service.
Week Fourteen (April 22): Fitting Theory In