English 180 - Fall, 2015

Children's Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Miller, Elizabeth
CRN: 73707
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 55 Roessler


    This course will focus on classic English-language literature for children, ranging from Lewis Carroll's _Alice's Adventures in Wonderland_ (1865) to _Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone_ (1997) and _Bud Not Buddy_ (1999) at the turn of the millennium. _Alice_ has long been considered a watershed work of children's literature because it conceives of childhood as a special period of existence with intrinsic value, a time of rich imaginative engagement that is actually superior to the tedium of adulthood that follows. Carroll's novel thus broke with earlier, more didactic forms of children's literature that tended to conceive of the child as an unformed adult who must be trained into civilized, grown-up behavior. Critics of children's literature have noted that this literary shift, often associated with the emergence of a 'Golden Age' of children's literature from roughly 1865-1930, occurred at the same time that child labor laws began protecting children from waged labor in factories, mills, and farms, ensuring a period of time for education before entering the labor marketplace. We will consider in this class, as this example suggests, how changing cultural conceptions of 'the child' interrelate with children's literature. We will examine how the child reader emerged as a new marketing category in the modern era, and we will look at the remediation of children's classics into multiple print and visual forms, as with Disney's reshaping of children's classics in twentieth-century film. We will thus think about how children's literature has changed from 1865 to the present, but also how it has stayed the same. Certain themes such as miniaturization or figures such as the orphan are as alive in contemporary children's literature as they were in the nineteenth century. We will also, in this sense, consider what children's literature tells us about children.


    Paper #1 25%
    Paper #2 30%
    10 Pop Quizzes 15%
    Final Exam 30%


    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
    Peter Pan , J. M. Barrie
    Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
    Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
    Bud Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
    The Railway Children, E. Nesbit
    Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan