ENGL 501: Literature for Children, J. Cummins
This course is an introduction to children's literature, with emphases on various genres within the field, including picture books and novels. We will approach the study of these works analytically, focusing on developing an adult understanding of and appreciation for these books. To this end, we will view children's books through several critical lenses. Throughout the course, we will be especially concerned with how children's literature reflects and creates social attitudes toward children and how society uses children's books to fashion children in certain ways.
ENGL 502: Adolescence in Literature, A. Allison
This course explores prose in which key characters are adolescents, as well as works that have been specifically written for adolescents, primarily the contemporary Young Adult novel. Adolescence is an exciting, difficult time during which cognitive functions, argumentative capacity, identity, ego, sexual relationships and love, societal relationships, authority relationships, justice and conscience, bodily image, career, education--and of course much more--are developed, explored, challenged, outgrown. These issues are depicted frequently in first-person narratives that reveal the keen emotions, humor, and observations of teenagers, and sometimes their agonies. Authors whose renditions of adolescence we will read include James Joyce, Sophocles, J.D. Salinger, Russell Hoban, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Zhai Zenghua. This class is recommended for students in general and especially for those interested in secondary school teaching. Requirements are six written assignments, a research-based midterm, and a final.
ENGL 626: The Visual in Children's Literature, J. Griswold
This course will examine the role of the image in relation to texts of Children's Literature: how, for example, certain writing invites imaginative visualizations and how texts serve as a set of instructions to lucid dreaming. Considering thinking-with-images, we will examine a portfolio of pictures to which a story was added later (Van Allsburg's The Garden of Abdul Gasazi), the conscious manipulation of design elements (Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are), and the book as object (e.g., the small Tale of Peter Rabbit, the oversizedStory of Babar). In that regard, we will discuss how pictures aid or inhibit or divert an understanding of story; and we will take up maps, illustrations, the picture book, and films by means of Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, and Charlotte's Web.
The readings will be varied and include Hawthorne's "Custom House" as well as selections from Italo Calvino's essays and Elaine Scarry's Dreaming by the Book; but the focus of the course will be the image environment of Children's Literature. In a theoretical manner, we will be concerned with both the beholder's "contribution" to pictorial perception and to the rhetoric of pictorial presentation (in the way it constructs social and consensual beliefs and values). Students should understand that the approach of this course will be interdisciplinary and we will be employing concepts drawn from cognitive science and aesthetics, art and film theory, psychoanalytic and cultural studies, and discussions of race and gender (including queer theory). Finally, just as no medical student would mistakenly believe a course in pediatrics is easier than a course in another specialization simply because it has to do with children, students contemplating enrolling in this course should not mistakenly believe that this class will be easier than any other graduate offering because its subject is literature for children.