English 203, Children's Literature

Significant Questions for thinking about Children's Literature

As you'll see from the welcome page, the primary goal of this course is to get you reading and thinking critically about children's literature, a body of work you may be extremely familiar with, but may also have taken for granted. This course is about uncovering what we take for granted, finding the cultural, historical, and literary contexts for the literature of childhood, and asking hard questions. Some of those questions are listed here, others will come up during the course of the semester.

* What is a child?

* Who is children's literature for?

* What is the relationship between literature for "adults" and literature for "children"? (Note that there are no courses in "adult literature," and that "adult book" is a term of opprobrium. What do these facts suggest?)

* What are fairy tales?

* Are there universal values that children's literature reflects and inculcates? If so, what are they? If not, should there be?

* What is literary theory, and how can it help us understand children's literature?

* What is the role of the fantastic in children's literature?

*  Why grow up?

*  Is "growing up" gendered?

*  What does it mean to be human?

* What is intertextuality, and how does it enhance our enjoyment and understanding of literature?



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