ENGL 242/001: Introduction to Children’s and Young Adult Literature (September 2023)

ENGL 242/001: Introduction to Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Term 1 | MWF 9:00-10:00 a.m.

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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 lens, exploring their (sometimes) evolving genre features. We’ll start with familiar (and not-so-familiar) oral-tradition folk and fairy tales, 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 1990s Goth culture.

We will also discover approaches to children’s/YA texts in literary/cultural studies at the university level.

Core texts tentatively include a selection of traditional folk and fairy tales; 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 tentatively be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Text acquisition options:

The traditional folk/fairy tales will be made available through links to Project Gutenberg and/or Wikisource on our Canvas site. I will provide a list of links later this summer.

If you want to start reading ahead, the texts are available, in print and ebook format, in the locations listed below. The UBC Bookstore will order print copies of these texts, with the exception of The Owl Service, which is until January only available as an ebook (though you might find out-of-print or secondhand editions at Book Warehouse or used-book stores).

  • The Owl Service (Alan Garner): Kindle, Kobo, GooglePlay, Apple Books (ebook);
  • The Rose and the Beast (Francesca Lia Block): Amazon, Indigo (print); Kindle, Kobo, GooglePlay, Apple Books (ebook)
  • Coraline (Neil Gaiman; the novel not the graphic novel): Amazon, Indigo (print); Kindle, Kobo, GooglePlay, Apple Books (ebook)
  • Skim (Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki): Amazon, Indigo (print); Kindle, Kobo, GooglePlay, Apple Books (ebook)

The ebooks can be read using an app or browser, and do not require a specific e-reader. In looking at search results, make sure the text has both the title and author correct.

Only legally published versions of material under copyright (the four texts listed above) will be acceptable for use in this course. Extraordinarily cheap or free editions of books still under copyright are unauthorized and risk errors and/or missing material. Email me (Gisele.Baxter@ubc.ca) and provide a link if you have any questions about an edition.

Please keep checking this post for more information about the course, its texts, and its requirements.

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