English 203, Fall 2012–Welcome!

English 203, Children’s Literature
Fall 2012: TR 9 – 10:15 am in Ryland Hall 203
Elisabeth R. Gruner
Ryland Hall 303-C
Office Hours: W 2-3 pm, Th 10:30 – 11:30 am, and by appointment

Welcome to Children’s Literature!  This is a class, as you’ll soon discover, about questioning received wisdom, finding the cultural, historical, and literary contexts for the literature of childhood, exploring the relationship between what we know and what we think we know, and understanding a body of literature that is widely enjoyed but rarely respected.

A few important things about how I teach, and how I hope you will learn:

  •  Your reading, your analysis, and your interpretations are the main “subject” of this course.  I already know what I think: I want to hear what you do.  I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, of course, but the emphasis in the course is discovering and creating your own knowledge rather than replicating mine.
  • This emphasis on the process of discovery means that classes proceed primarily through discussion.  Come to class with the material read (perhaps more than once), and with some questions and/or comments about your reading.  Mark up your text.  (If it’s an online text, print it out so you can mark it up and bring it to class.) Write about the reading.  Only through persistent engagement with the material can you make it your own.
  • That said, there is a subject matter to the course and some skills for you to learn. We’ll learn new vocabulary as we discuss the ways in which scholars have approached literary texts in the past; we’ll acquaint ourselves with several, sometimes competing, methodologies for the study of literary texts; and we’ll read widely in the recent history of children’s literature.

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