English R1B

Reading and Composition: A Childhood

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Fall 2022 Yniguez, Rudi
TTh 8-9:30 Wheeler 122


This course will focus on canonical British texts that claim either to represent for a child or to represent to a child.  As we track these texts’ supposed invention of a certain kind of British childhood—and with it a certain kind of British identity—we’ll grapple with some of the binaries many of them reinforce or defy: child/adult, center/periphery, home/abroad, inside/outside, belonging/alienation, character/narrator, fantasy/reality. In doing so, we will investigate the impact of the child-figure on British figurations of gender, political representation, and empire. We’ll analyze the development of a traditionalized and somewhat stable concept of “childhood” as a universalizing experience/signifier while emphasizing the singularity of the child in fiction and the isolation of each ‘childhood’ within its own social world and text. How do literary adults and children relate to one another? What lines are drawn to first separate and then connect them? How can one represent—let alone enter into—the experiential space of another? What, exactly, does re-presenting come to mean under these circumstances?

Texts will include: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Winnie-the-Pooh, Wind in the Willows, and excerpts from Olaudah Equiano, Lyrical Ballads, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Mill on the Floss, and To the Lighthouse. Other potentials include texts by E. Nesbit, Tove Ditlevsen, Elena Ferrante, Roald Dahl, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of these texts will be compiled into a course handbook (forthcoming)--and required editions for full texts will soon be found on CalCentral.

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