English 203, Children's Literature

Fall 2006

Section 1: MWF 9:20 - 10:10

Section 2: MWF 10:25 - 11:15

Prof. Elisabeth Rose Gruner




Welcome to Children's Literature!  This is a class, as you'll soon discover, about questioning received wisdom, finding the cultural, historical, and literary contexts for the literature of childhood, exploring the relationship between what we know and what we think we know, and understanding a body of literature that is widely enjoyed but rarely respected.


A few important things about how I teach, and how I hope you will learn:


v    Your reading, your analysis, and your interpretations are the main "subject" of this course.  I already know what I think: I want to hear what you do.  I'll share what I've learned so far, of course, but the emphasis in the course is discovering and creating your own knowledge rather than replicating mine.


v    This emphasis on the process of discovery means that classes proceed primarily through discussion.  Come to class with the material read (perhaps more than once), and with some questions and/or comments about your reading.  Mark up your text.  Write about the reading.  Only through  persistent engagement with the material can you make it your own.


v    That said, there is a subject matter to the course and some skills for you to learn. We'll learn new vocabulary as we discuss the ways in which scholars have approached literary texts in the past; we'll acquaint ourselves with several, sometimes competing, methodologies for the study of literary texts; and we'll read widely in the recent history of children's literature.  And, yes, there will be a test.



My goals for the course are as follows:


v    You will leave the class having read and analyzed a broad array of important literary works for children.

v    You will have the opportunity to work with children in a service learning setting, tutoring or reading aloud at least once a week. (optional)

v    You will have written a minimum of 15 pages of analysis of children's literary texts.

v    You will have a working knowledge of the most important critical terms for literary analysis, both theoretical and methodological.

v    You will have engaged with the list of significant questions for the course, in class discussion and in written work outside of class.

v    You will enjoy and respect the accomplishments of the writers we study as well as your classmates.


These goals will be assessed through a variety of means, including but not limited to:


v    Frequent participation in class discussion  (up to 15% of course grade)

v    Midterm and final exams  (up to 35% of course grade)

v    Out of class papers (up to 50% of course grade)

v    In-office consultation (optional, but recommended)




For more about papers and exams, click here. 

For grading standards, here.

The course schedule is here.


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