"They Call this Children's Literature?"
Summer I, 2006
Dr. Susan Stewart
Hall of Languages 221
Office Hours: Monday and Tuesday 10:00-10:50
Tatar, Maria. Classic Fairy Tales
Collodi, Carlo, Pinocchio
Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963
Ellis, Deborah. Parvana's Journey
Almond, David. Skellig
Lowry, Lois. The Giver
Dahl, Roald. The Witches
Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are
Americans with Disabilities Act Statement:
According to TAMU-Commerce policy, "Students requesting accommodations for disabilities must go through the Academic Support Committee. For more information, please contact the Director of Disability Resources and Services, Halladay Student Services Building, Room 303D, 903-886-5835." It is only under these conditions that I will make the accommodations you require.
Course Description, Goals, Approach and Rationale:
During this course, we will be exploring a number of children's novels and texts through various genres. Together, we'll also be exploring various ideas conveyed in the texts, the historical development and context of children's fiction, how novels for young readers have changed and/or stayed the same, and the intersections among language, theory, politics, ideology, and children's fiction. In particular, we will examine how children make it through childhood alive (at least most of them) and the obstacles they encounter. Granted, I have chosen texts that emphasize obstacles and dangers. Thus, this group does not necessarily provide a traditional reflection of childhood, but that's what should make this journey interesting. We'll also be tackling several questions throughout the semester. What IS children's literature anyway? What is its purpose, how does it function, and why? Is it successful in its function? What are adult expectations of children as set forth in these texts? What might these novels say about our culture? Why study children's literature in the first place?
As far as I know, there aren't any definitive answers to the above questions, but that doesn't mean they aren't worthy of our attention. The fact is, I'm not here to answer the above questions; I'm here to ask them, identify problems, encourage you to ask questions and identify problems, and discuss them with you. Ultimately, I want you, in the time we have, to become as informed as possible regarding children's literature. This will hopefully allow you to come to an informed, aware, and sensitive approach to children's literature, and to understand the various concerns and assumptions surrounding literature for young readers.
I want to emphasize that we will be reading these texts as adults, not as how we think children might receive the texts. This is somewhat problematic in itself, in that with the exception of a few generalizations, to determine what constitutes an adult or child, their likes or dislikes, their actual needs or perceived needs, is nearly impossible. I am working from the premise that there is no "universal child," only our perceptions, which are guided by cultural ideologies. We will approach these texts in a multitude of ways, including cultural and historical perspectives, which further includes approaches such as feminism, Marxism, and cultural poetics. Ultimately, you will need to demonstrate your ability to read these texts closely, critically, creatively, intellectually, and theoretically.
Assignments, Tests, and Grading:
|Quizzes||5-20 points each depending on the nature of the quiz|
|In-class writing||10-20 points each depending on the nature of the topic|
|Critical Responses||10-40 points each depending on the nature of the topic|
|Final Exam||50 points|
Critical Responses: Throughout the semester, you'll write "critical responses" to the texts you read wherein you explore an idea or concept reflecting the nature of the course. These responses are not exercises in personal responses (I hated this book; I loved this book); rather, I will give you a prompt to which you'll need to respond, or I will ask you to write a free response where you decide on an issue relative to the theme of the class. Unless otherwise specified, your responses should:
Critical Response Assignments:
I seldom accept late work, especially in a five-week class. If you know ahead of time that you will be absent when an assignment is due, it is your responsibility to turn it in before it is due. Otherwise, if I accept the paper at all, it will be docked at least one letter grade.
Participation, Absences, and Tardiness:
This is a discussion-based class, which is designed to help you discuss children's literature from an intellectual standpoint. If you find our topic uninteresting, then you have a responsibility to help make it interesting. Ask questions; help lead discussion.
If for some reason you miss class, it is your responsibility to contact one of your classmates and find out what you missed.
I understand that emergencies arise, but if it appears that you'll be missing more than 1 or 2 classes, you should consider taking this course when you can devote the necessary time required by this class. This is particularly relevant due to the short duration of this course. (Essentially, each week of class is equivalent to 3 weeks of classes in a traditional 15-week course.) I do keep track of attendance and I don't give "free" absences. Excessive absences will negatively affect your grade. I define excessive absences as more than 2 absences. If you get into the 3-4 area, it will be a challenge to make better than a C. If you have 5 absences or more, expect to fail the class. Additionally, I reserve the right to drop you from the class if students who accrue 5 or more absences.
Arrive on time. Arriving late is disrespectful and disruptive. If I have taken role before you arrive, I will count it as an absence. Most in-class assignments and quizzes cannot be made up.
Computers and the Internet:
You need to have access to and be willing to work with computers and the internet. If you do not have access to a computer or are opposed to using one, you will need to take a section wherein computers are not as critical to the classroom environment. Most of the work I assign will be listed on my website, and some of the readings can only be found through links I provide. Additionally, you will need to have access to the Educator website, as I might require that you post written materials to the Discussion Board, and this is where you will store an electronic version of your essays and Tickets In. Your grades are also available there. Thus, you will need ready access to the internet.
You are responsible for indicating when you have used specific words, sentences, or paragraphs, which belong to other writers. These words, sentences, or paragraphs should be designated via quotation marks and in-text citations. Additionally, identify when you use ideas from other sources. If you use the exact wording of something you've read or if you paraphrase it, provide a specific citation indicating where you found your information. If in question, cite it, and indicate that you've cited it by using quotation marks and in-text citations. Think of it in these terms: knowledge is a commodity, especially in the academic community. If you had a brilliant idea, or a wonderful way with words, would you like it if someone used your idea or words without acknowledging you? In short, I will fail papers that are copied or that do not acknowledge sources. If you have questions, ask me, and I will help you. If I discover a paper has been plagiarized, I will fail the paper, which will likely result in an F for the class. Further, according to the Texas A&M University-Commerce Code of Student Conduct 5.b[1,2,3], penalties for students guilty of academic dishonesty include disciplinary probation, suspension, and expulsion. See also the following link: http://www.ilstu.edu/~ddhesse/wpa/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf
Students are expected to be civil, polite, and accommodating to differences of opinion. University policy provides the means for dismissing students who do not meet these requirements, and I will take politeness very seriously.
Cell Phones in the Classroom:
Use some common sense and be smart about this, for I have a real problem with cell phones in the classroom. It's rude, disrespectful, and disruptive to accept or make phone calls, to text message, or play games. Just don't. The only cell phone permitted in this class is a cell phone that is turned off. That means you should not receive or answer calls or text messages. If there is cell phone incident, I reserve the right to ask you to leave class, which will count as an absence.
If you intend to seek teaching certification, you must past the state's certification examination on the TExES/ExCET. Preparation guidelines describing the English exams are available for downloading at http://www.texes.nesinc.com/prepmanuals/prepman_opener.htm.
Mon., June 5 Introductions: Reading ideologically; history of children's literature
Tues., June 6 Lecture and discussion: How Picture Books Work (Ideologically
aesthetically); Where the Wild Things Are
Wed., June 7 For today, read: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/pedagogy/v001/1.2coats.html.If
you can't access it through the above, you can access it through:
Thurs., June 8 Class Dismissed
Mon., June 12
Critical Response #1 Due today
Reading: From Classic Fairy Tales
Tues., June 13
From Classic Fairy Tales
Wed., June 14
From Classic Fairy Tales
Thurs., June 15
From Classic Fairy Tales
Mon., June 19 Pinocchio; discussion of conservative/progressive texts
Tues., June 20 Discussion
Wed., June 21 The Witches (a quick word about witches)
Thurs., June 22 Critical Response #3
Mon., June 26 The Giver
Tues., June 27 Critical Response #4 (Fairy tale re-written)
ALA List of Challenged Books
Wed., June 28 Skellig; Some information about Skellig
Thurs., June 29 Discussion
Mon., July 3 Parvana's Journey
Tues., July 4 (Class dismissed)
Wed., July 5 Watsons Go to Birmingham; Critical Response #5; Context for Watsons go to Birmingham--1963
Thurs., July 6 Final Exam. Follow link for glossary.