Spring 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:252 Children's Literature

01  TTH4  CAC  16180  JACKSON  SC-114

While literature aimed at young adults is the primary focus of this course, we will initially survey works that cross the line between juvenilia and young adult fiction. As we progress, we’ll explore why such “developmental” categories are anything but stable. A number of questions will govern our foray through young-adult fiction: In what ways has children’s literature shaped development of the young? How has a children’s literary canon attempted to shape cultural and ideological attitudes? To what degree has it spoken with a class inflection, or unconsciously formed cultural, racial, religious, gendered, and sexual norms? Do authors tune their creative process with developmental stages in mind, perceived psychological benchmarks by which society measures the intellectual maturation of the young? Can one say with William James that fiction might influence our response to an experience in advance of it? We will, at least nominally, consider theories of child development—“developmental” psychology in Piaget and others—in relation to the narrative construction of young adult fiction in an attempt to determine to what degree these concerns have guided and shaped both authorial creativity and curriculum design. (This course will run on both Sakai and Canvas.)