English 80K

Children's Literature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2015 Lavery, Grace
TTh 12:30-2 105 North Gate

Book List

Barrie, J. M. : Peter and Wendy; Gaiman, Neil: Sandman: The Doll's House; Kingsley, Charles: The Water Babies; Kipling, Rudyard: Kim; Morrison, Grant: All-Star Superman; Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita; Nesbit, E.: Five Children and It; Seuss, Dr.: Green Eggs and Ham; Thompson, Kay: Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-Ups; Winnicott, Donald: The Piggle: An Account of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of a Little Girl


This course has two principal aims: (1) to provide an overview of the history of children's literature in English from the eighteenth century to the present; (2) to introduce students to the major generic, political, and aesthetic questions such literature has posed – of, for example: the purpose of education; infantile sexuality; the mechanisms of language acquisition; the ethical nature of innocence; the family romance; violence and violent desire; child labor; didactic and fantastical modes of address; the infant-animal relationship; embodied differences of gender, race, sexuality, and (dis)ability; peer pressure. We will treat as axiomatic the notion that the "child" is a contingent and constructed object, always reinvented to suit the needs of its historical moment. From Rudyard Kipling's idealized cosmopolitan boychild to the morally compromised extra-judicial violence of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, children's literature and culture relays to its charges the best ways of serving the interests of the powerful. We will not, then, make generalizations about what children are, what children like, or what children know. But we will wonder together whether the inverse is true too, and that something in the infantile attachments we feel towards children's literature might also resist conscription into the normative mechanisms of maturity. 

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