English 392/002: Children’s Literature (September 2021)

ENGL 392/002: Children’s Literature: Something in the Shadows is Watching

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Term 1 | MWF 12:00-1:00p

“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 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, ending with a graphic novel examining adolescent engagement with Goth culture.

Core texts include Folk and Fairy Tales (Broadview, 5th ed.); Alan Garner, The Owl Service; Francesca Lia Block, The Rose and The Beast; Neil Gaiman, Coraline; and Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, Skim.

Evaluation will be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final exam, and participation in discussion.

Editions of the texts and digital options will be identified later this summer.

See Recent Posts or Archives (June 2021) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2021-22 courses.

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