ENGL 468A/99A (Children’s Literature) September 2015

Children’s Literature (online; 3 credits)

Instructor: Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

Danger and Discovery

“You are always in danger in the forest, where no people are.” – Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves”

Danger and discovery stalk children’s literature in many ways. It so often focuses on successful (or not so successful) negotiation of the threats and learning opportunities in the intimate and public worlds around the child that “children’s” tales are often scarier than adult fiction.

Not surprisingly, children’s literature has long been the focus of both fascination and controversy, and only more recently of full-on academic (theorizing) attention. In this course, we will study a broad selection of texts, most specifically through a literary/cultural studies lens, exploring their (sometimes) evolving genre features and the ways assumptions about audiences have shifted over time and according to various theorists. We’ll start with familiar (and not-so-familiar) oral-tradition folk/fairytales, to consider how their recurring devices establish tropes still commonly used in children’s adventure-quest stories. Then we will stray from the path and consider how texts that assume a mostly young readership might challenge or subvert perceived boundaries and conventions, especially in representing discovery or peril.

Text List:

Except for Folk & Fairy Tales and the Custom Course Materials, any editions (print or e-book) are acceptable as long as they are complete. You may want the Broadview editions for the scholarly material: very useful for writing assignments! (The recommended books have not been ordered through the bookstore. If the library has them I will try to put them on reserve.)

  • Hallett and Karasek, eds. Folk & Fairy Tales. Broadview. 4th ed.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
  • C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, Skim
  • Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
  • Custom Course Materials package
  • Recommended for material on writing textual analysis in literary studies: Janet Gardner’s Reading and Writing about Literature 3rd ed.
  • Recommended for general writing issues (grammar/mechanics; documentation/citation): The Canadian Writer’s Handbook: Essentials Edition
  • Readings from Folk & Fairy Tales will be announced shortly before term starts in September (meanwhile, read as widely as you like in the book: it’s all useful material!); you will gain online access to the course on the first day of term.

Course Requirements:

  • Short Critical Analysis 1: end of Week 4: 15%
  • Short Critical Analysis 2: end of Week 7: 20%
  • Term Paper: end of Week 13: 30% (an informal email proposal will be required by the end of Week 10)
  • Participation (ongoing: based primarily on contribution to open discussions, with occasional, optional prompts for posts to a private journal): 10%
  • Final Examination (invigilated): 25% Even with submission of all assignments, you must write and pass the final exam in order to pass this course. The university sets the final exam date, and if it conflicts with travel plans, I cannot schedule an exam ahead of that date.

Note concerning focus: This senior undergraduate course is concerned with the academic literary analysis of texts, and not with whether the texts are “good” for young readers or with how to introduce texts to them. The texts represent no specific hierarchy or cross section; many others will come up in discussion. If you chose this section because of one specific text, please find out about all the others, so you can bring the same attention and enthusiasm to all of them.

Note concerning pace: 468A/99A is the online equivalent of a classroom course and is structured the same way: 13 weeks, with weekly readings and required contribution to open discussion (on Connect). There is much reading to be done, and you’ll have to pace it so that you can contribute to discussion in the appropriate week. You will need daily access to a computer with a current operating system and browser, and a reliable high-speed internet connection.

  • You will need a Campus Wide Login (http://www.cwl.ubc.ca) username and password to access the Connect site (http://elearning.ubc.ca) for this course.
  • 6 credits of first-year English, or the 18-credit Arts One Program, or the 6-credit ASTU 100A in CAP, or 3 credits of first-year ENGL plus one of ASTU 100B or ASTU 150 and third-year standing are prerequisite to all English courses numbered 343 and above.
  • A book order form will be available from CTLT: http://ctlt.ubc.ca/distance-learning/courses/engl/engl468a/ (wait till the link specifies the form is for the section offered in Term 1 2015-16; the summer section has a different text list)

© Gisèle M. Baxter. Not to be copied, used, shared, or revised without explicit written permission from the copyright owner.

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