College of Humanities and Social Sciences

ENGH 526: Special Topics in the History and Criticism of Children's Literature

ENGH 526-001: Golden Age Children's Literature
(Spring 2015)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM M

Robinson A101

Section Information for Spring 2015

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The term "Golden Age" carries a heavy freight of nostalgia, imbued with that Romantic idealization of "the child" that isolates--often in an idyllic setting--and mystifies a life stage into an image of impossible, originary purity.  Even relatively recently, these texts were taken as "defining" children's literature, even if several are not much read today.  Instead of indulging in reverie, we will interrogate texts and theory to engage textual richness.  The period covers 1865-1950, but we may examine a few contemporary works that consciously adopt the ethos of the era: J.K Rowling's quidditch was born at Thomas Hughes's Rugby.

The authors of these works are as intriguing as the works themselves: bank executives writing about moles, badgers, and toads; clergymen writing about a young girl's subterranean quest, or a boy's transformation into a water-creature; and women giving their female characters the forthright expressions of will and desire that they cannot voice themselves.  What contribution did these writers make to the ways their society constructed and understood childhood?

Authors: Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti, Kenneth Grahame, Thomas Hughes, E. Nesbit, Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, and selected others.  The texts for the course are leisurely and lengthy, so be prepared to spend the necessary time in active, critical reading and analysis.  Three papers: two short (4-5 pp.) and one longer paper (12-20 pp.) and short analytical exercises as needed.

Image:  John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885-1886)


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Focuses on the history and criticism of children's literature by concentrating on selected historical periods and literary modes such as "Golden Age" children's literature, contemporary fantastic and children's literature, or Romantic and Victorian children's literature. Notes: May be repeated with permission of instructor. May be repeated within the degree for a maximum 6 credits.
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Non Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Lecture

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.

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