Course Requirements include a midterm and final exam, two short papers, frequent Blackboard postings, a longer paper, and frequent informed class discussion.  Oh, and lots of reading.


Midterm: Friday, October 6, in class.  Short answer questions covering the readings to date.


Final: as scheduled.: :     Section 1--Monday, Dec. 18, 9-12

                             Section 2--Tuesday, Dec. 19, 9-12


A comprehensive final with short answer questions from the second half of the course, and essay questions covering all the material.



Participation & posts:               15%

Short Papers:                          15% each (service learners, that extra 15% will be added to your best work in the class)

Midterm:                                15%

Final Project:                          20%

Final Exam:                              20%



Review the Grading Standards for this course.

Here are some helpful hints about writing papers for this class.






Details on the Blackboard Postings:


There are two kinds of writing for this class: ungraded informal Blackboard postings, and formal papers written out of class.  The two kinds of writing serve two different purposes: Blackboard postings engage you in the reading before we meet as a class, serve as a kind of "pre-writing" for papers, and give you a window into each others' thoughts.  As such they are ungraded, but still required: they will make you better participants in class discussion, more informed readers, and help you get more out of the class.  The Blackboard postings will come in two varieties: responses to assigned questions, due each Wednesday, and reflections on class discussion, due each Sunday.  Guidelines for Blackboard postings are available at the discussion board section of our course site.  Blackboard postings count for 50% of your participation grade: satisfactory completion of 90-100% of assigned postings earns you an A, 80-90% a B, and so on.


Short Paper Topics and Due Dates:

Out of class papers are entirely different from Blackboard postings.  Rather than serving as informal reflections, they are an opportunity to develop ideas raised in class discussion and make them your own.  In a formal paper you are responsible for developing an original argument (according to guidelines outlined below) and using the analytical tools you've begun a acquire in class to sustain your claims.

All students will select two of the following paper topics, with one exception: if you have chosen to participate in the service learning option for the course, you will be exempted from one paper. Please E-mail me with your choices by Friday, Sep. 8. Papers should be 3-5 pages long and do not require outside sources (except assigned readings for class) or additional research  You must complete at least one paper by October 23.


Monday, September 11

Compare and contrast the attitudes towards childhood in two of the following: Blake's poetry (choose one or two poems to support your thesis), various versions of "Little Red Riding Hood" (again, choose one or two specific ones), Peter Rabbit, and/or Where the Wild Things Are.  What most clearly characterizes childhood?  Is it valuable?  Is it qualitatively different from adulthood?  Why or why not? Remember that comparison/contrast papers need a thesis just like any other paper; it is not enough to say "there are many similarities and differences" What do the similarities and differences mean? Which ones seem to matter, and why?


Monday, September 25

Compare and contrast the alternate worlds of one of the Alice books (i.e., either Wonderland or Looking-Glass World) with Narnia. What is the meaning of the alternate world?  How does it comment on ours?  Why can children go there?  As above, remember that comparison/contrast papers need a thesis just like any other paper; it is not enough to say "there are many similarities and differences" What do the similarities and differences mean? Which ones seem to matter, and why?


Monday, Oct. 9

How do you define heroism in a children's book?  What qualities must a child hero(ine) have, and how are they on display in at least two texts we've read so far?  Be sure to state your definition clearly and support it with substantial evidence from at least two texts.




Monday,  Oct. 23  Wednesday, Oct. 25

Analyze the ways in which gender operates in the Alice books. or in Peter and Wendy.  What does it mean to be a girl, or a woman, in this novel?  What does it mean to be a boy, or a man? 


Monday, Nov. 6  Wednesday, Nov. 8

What is the relationship between boyhood and rules?  Draw on your reading of Peter and Wendy, The Thief Lord, The Watsons go to Birmingham--1963  and/or Monster in order to answer this question.  Please note that you may discuss either the "unwritten rules" of gender, or explicit codes of conduct and/or laws in the texts you choose.


Monday, Nov. 20

Compare and contrast two versions of any fairy tale we've read.  Consider the audience, cultural context, and/or literary-critical implications of the two versions. Remember that comparison/contrast papers need a thesis just like any other paper; it is not enough to say "there are many similarities and differences" What do the similarities and differences mean? Which ones seem to matter, and why?  Which seem more significant, the similarities or the differences?


Monday, November 27

Compare and contrast Charlotte's Web, Weetzie Bat, or Speak with any fairy tale we've read. See above for caveats regarding comparison/contrast.  Some questions to keep in mind: do fairy tales require heroes? Do they need happy endings (and if so, how do we define them)? What is the role of magic in fairy tales?



The project:


For all students, due Friday, Dec. 8 (in class)--A six to eight page major assignment.  Note that all choices require library research and a bibliography of the sources you consult.  Click here for a guide to library research in children's literature.


Choose one of the following:

Major Assignment #1


Choose a novel you remember fondly from childhood, either a book read to you or which you read alone. (All choices must be cleared with me.  Please do not choose series books, picture books, or anthologies.) Read the book again and find out some more about it as well--through research on the author, other similar books, the genre, etc. Compare this reading experience to your memory of it: what attracted you to the book initially? What do you find in it now? Is it enriched, diminished, or changed in any way?  Make sure the paper includes these three elements: the rationale for your choice, the new information you've learned about the text or author, and your new analysis of the text (this last is the heart of the paper).


Major Assignment #2


Several of the books we've read for this class have been censored, challenged, or removed from library shelves or school curricula. Research a banned book--either one we've read for class, or one you select for yourself. Find out why it was banned or challenged, and write an essay detailing the history of the challenge and analyzing the book in relation to that challenge.  Please note: Use children's fiction only for this paper (no sex-ed manuals, no literature intended primarily for adult audiences).  You may want to start your research here, the American Library Association's resource page on challenged books.



Major Assignment #3


Service learners may construct a major assignment around the experience of the service learning project. Please discuss paper topics with me individually.


All students must turn in a project proposal and/or outline, detailing the choice of topic, choice of text(s), and preliminary research, by Wed., Nov. 15.   The project proposal should be at least 2 pages long, including a description of the topic and your approach to it--including your chosen text(s)--and a preliminary annotated bibliography.  An annotated bibliography is a listing of critical works you intend to consult, with brief notes (usually a sentence will do) as to the relevance of the work to your project.



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