English 468B/002: Children’s Literature (September 2018)

Children’s Literature – Term 1 MWF 12:00-12:50 p.m. – Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Something in the Shadows is Watching

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

From The Turn of the Screw to The Others, creepy children frequently haunt Gothic texts. But what of Gothic texts assuming a young audience? Children’s/YA literature so often focuses on successful (or not so successful) negotiation of threats and learning opportunities in the intimate and public worlds around the child that “children’s” tales are often scarier than adult fiction.

In this section, we will study a variety of texts through a literary/cultural studies critical and theoretical lens, exploring their (sometimes) evolving genre features. We’ll start with familiar (and not-so-familiar) oral-tradition folk/fairytales, to consider how their recurring devices establish tropes still frequently recurring. Then we will stray from the path and consider how a selection of novels might challenge or subvert perceived boundaries and conventions, especially in engaging with Gothic themes and motifs.

Evaluation will be based on two short essays, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, and an essay-based final examination, as well as participation in discussion both in class and on Canvas.

Text List

I’ve ordered the following texts from the bookstore. I do want you to use the new 5th edition of Folk and Fairy Tales, but you may use any edition of the novels as long as it is unabridged.

  • Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek, eds. Folk and Fairy Tales, 5th Edition. (Broadview)
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
  • Roald Dahl, The Witches
  • Alan Garner, The Owl Service
  • Neil Gaiman, Coraline
  • Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy

Watch this site for updates.

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