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zbook.gif (995 bytes)Children's Literature I: Introduction to Children's Literature

This course, which is part of a two-course sequence offered every other year, provides an introduction to children's literature. During the semester, we will look at a range of topics touching on the history, nature, and use of this literary genre. But mostly we will read lots and lots of texts from the vast repertoire of work published in the name of children's literature, from fairy tales and nursery rhymes to comic books and the young adult novel. We will give special attention to the picture book, regarded by many as children's literature's unique contribution to literary culture in that it both combines written and visual narratives and is read as fervently by adults as by children. The texts we will look at will be mainly Western in origin and range from European classics such as Mother Goose and Household Stories by the Brother's Grimm to postmodern works such as George Shrinks and The Frog Prince Continued. Students from other departments are warmly welcomed, but please note that classes are conducted in English. Requirements include one exam (25%), a "round-robin" journal (25%), one short (4-5 page) paper (25%) and one performative, creative or investigative project (25%). Miss class at your peril!

zbook.gif (995 bytes)Children's Literature II: Critical Approaches to Children Literature

Part II of a two-part sequence on children's literature offered every other year, this course is designed to provide an introduction to critical approaches to children's literature. The primary text for this course will be Perry Nodelman's The Pleasures of Children's Literature, which we will supplement with a few short essays and articles in English and Chinese. This course will be taught using a seminar method in which the students themselves take responsibility for introducing the course readings and facilitating class discussion. There will be no exams but there will be short weekly quizzes to test the students' comprehension of the reading assignments. Requirements include biweekly papers (1 page, single spaced) for the first 10 weeks of the course and a final paper (4-5 pages) developed from the best of the biweekly papers. Students from other departments are welcome, but please note that classes are conducted in English. Attendance is not mandatory but students who miss class will probably be turned into toads.

zbook.gif (995 bytes)Victorian Adult Fantasy

This course will be offered in the Fall 1999 semester. Many classics of Victorian literature, such as Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, are often thought of as children's literature when in fact they were actually written (by and large) for the amusement and entertainment of adults. Although we tend to think of Victorian literature in terms of the all-too-serious realist fiction of a George Eliot or Thomas Hardy, the Victorian Age saw a vast proliferation of adult fantasy. In this course we will read the best known and most admired examples of this immensely entertaining body of literature.

We will look at fantasy as a literary form distinct from other Victorian genres, realist and    fantastic.  We will also look at some of the cultural, social and political contexts of Victorian life that may have helped give rise to adult fantasy. Finally, we will look at some of the political and social implications of these texts with a view to discovering whether adult fantasy was simply a form of escapism (and, if so, escape from what?) or offered its Victorian readers forms of social engagement either as socialization or subversion.

The readings for this course will include most of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland as well as a large selection of short stories, tales, and poems by Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, Christina Rossetti, George Macdonald, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, R.L. Stevenson, Aubrey Beardsley, and Rudyard Kipling. As the readings are nearly all classics of Victorian literature read and enjoyed by adults and children alike (many of these texts can in fact be found in the Norton Anthology of British Literature), this course should appeal to students interested in deepening their understanding of children's literature and/or Victorian literature and preparing for the graduate school entrance exams in English.

Non-English majors are welcome to enroll, but be advised that class will be taught exclusively in English. This course will be taught in a seminar style. Course requirements include short biweekly response papers or reports based upon the course readings and one final paper to be developed from the best of these shorter papers.


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