English R1B

Reading and Composition: Gay, Innocent, and Heartless

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2017 Callender, Brandon
MWF 11-12 211 Dwinelle

Book List

Bambara, Toni Cade: Gorilla, My Love; Barrie, James: Peter Pan; Carroll, Lewis: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Chee, Alexander: Edinburgh ; Cisneros, Sandra: The House on Mango Street; James, Henry: Turn of the Screw; Levithan, David: Two Boys Kissing; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye; Nabokov , Vladimir : Lolita; Torres, Justin: We the Animals


The last words of Peter Pan allude to an endless cycle in which children become adults, adults produce more children, and the cycle goes on and on “so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.” If we should pause over this description, it is perhaps because it may be difficult to think of children as being both innocent and heartless at once. Haven't children always been innocent? And yet to speak of all children in this way may hide the fact that some people's children have at times appeared more or less innocent than those of others. In order to investigate these concerns and more, this course examines various representations of childhood in literature and film, with a unique sensitivity for how they vary across race, class, gender, and sexuality. What does it means to represent childhood as a period of innocence? Whose childhoods get to exist within this category? Finally, how do such ideas and projections impact the lives of the children who must grow up inside of these worlds?

As a writing intensive course, our goal will be to grow as clear and critical writers, regardless of your major. To that end, we will not only learn how to craft compelling questions and arguments, but also how to conduct original research which will engages with the ideas of other thinkers. The course requirements will include two papers that you will write and revise over the course of the semester.

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