English 180 - Fall, 2016

Children's Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Miller, Elizabeth
CRN: 32529
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 118 Olson


    This course focuses on classic literature for children, ranging from Lewis Carroll’s _Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland_ (1865) to new classics such as _Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone_ (1997) and _Esperanza Rising_ (2000). _Alice_ has long been considered a watershed work because it 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, associated with the start 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 force. We will consider in this class how such changing cultural conceptions of “the child” interrelate with children’s literature. We will also examine how the child reader emerged as a new marketing category in the modern era, and will look at the remediation of children’s classics into multiple print and visual forms, as with Disney’s reshaping of classic fairy tales in twentieth-century film. We will think about how children’s literature has changed from 1865 to the present, but also how it has stayed the same. Themes such as miniaturization and figures such as the orphan are as alive in contemporary children’s literature as they were in the nineteenth century. In this sense, we will ask what children’s literature tells us about children.


    2 papers
    10 quizzes
    final exam
    participation and attendance


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