Defining Children’s Literature as “literature written on, by, or for children,” this course will engage with selected texts in an investigation into how the stories we see when young are designed to affect us when older. Special and specific attention will be paid to the use of allegory within children’s fiction to demonstrate ways in which these texts are, successfully or deliberatly or otherswise, used by societies to manipulate the growing mind into accepting its laws, traditions and prevailing culture. From the Fairy Tale to the concept of the Heroes’ Journey, the course will also analyze the extent to which legal treaties, societal conventions and norms are incorporated into the domestic context through children’s literature. The explicit and implicit societal “rules of the road” are reflected in the stories parents, families and communities share with their children. We will explore these “rules of the road” (human rights concepts and values such as the right to participate in government, the right to free speech, the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to self-identity, the right to family, and other rights) through an analytical study of children’s literature. We will closely examine how human rights, societal norms and legal values are introduced and instilled in young readers. This close examination will provide a foundation for understanding the relationship between the norms introduced in children’s literature and the laws that codify those norms.
Themes explored in this course will include: discipline and power, political and religious indoctrination, the morals and values embedded in legal systems and children’s narratives, diversity in the context of gender and race and how society constructs and manages “the other”. The course will also address the legal issue of when a child is recognized as an adult, and how this is explored in texts on children.
Students need be aware that though the source texts on this course are, by their very nature, less “difficult” than those on other courses, the level of analysis expected of them will be equally robust and in-depth .
We will meet for three hours every Tuesday afternoon (1:30pm - 4:20pm), with a short break in the middle. Our meetings will include lecture, open class discussions, small group work, and oral presentations by individual students. My prefered method of teaching is the very-detailed-analysis, where texts are gone through closely in class in an attempt to get them to yield what delights and complications they will.
The 100% coursework assessment will comprise marks from
Reading Responses (Initial essays/presentations): 40%
Class Work (including attendance, contribution to all discussions, and evidence of preparation and intellectual curiosity) - 20%
Final Essay - 40% (1250 -1500 words)
I reserve the right to amend these percentages.
Texts for the course will be selected from among the following:
Blackman, Malorie. Noughts and Crosses. (Series). Penguin Random House UK. 2001.
Carter, Angela. “The Company of Wolves.” The Bloody Chamber. Penguin Books. London. 1979.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. (Series). Scholastic. London. 2008-2010.
Da Sijie. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. [Trans Ina Rilke]. Vintage. London. 2006.
Gaiman, Neil. “Snow, Glass, Apples.” Smoke and Mirrors. Headline Review. London.1999.
Gaiman Neil. “The Problem of Susan.” Fragile Things. Headline Review, London. 2006.
Herge. Tintin in the Congo. Casterman. 1930. Revised 1946.
Lewis, CS. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Bodley Head. London. 1950.
Lewis, CS. The Last Battle. The Bodley Head. London. 1956.
McEwan, Ian. The Children Act. Vintage Books. London. 2014.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Martin Secker and Warburg. London. 1945.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter. (Series). Doubleday. 1997- 2007.
Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are. Harper and Row. New York. 1963.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Disney, 1937
Enchanted. Disney, 2007.
Frozen. Disney, 2013.
Dr Who. The Zygon Inversion. BBC. 2015. (TV Series. Double Episode).
Mycroftlectures video on Seamus Heaney’s Digging
Mycroftlectures video on Seamus Heaney’s Mid-term Break.
Mycroftlectures video on Sonnet 71. Rumpelstiltskin Revisited.
Students will also be provided with extra hand-outs, poems, essays, and stories, during the course.
- Attain fluency in fundamental human rights' concepts and values.
- Develop an understanding of the conventions of children's literature and the skills to thoughtfully analyze the literature under discussion.
- Within a human rights' context, critically analyze children's literature to discern the cultural and legal values that are being promulgated to young readers.
- Critically examine the allegorical connections within literature written for children and ascertain how these relate to the legal, moral, and ethical paradigms of the larger world.
- To gain awareness of the different storytelling structures and tropes that begin with literature written for chldren.
- Identify, describe and discuss the intersection between law, legal culture and children's literature through connecting various themes from children's literature with legal principles.
- Show an in-depth understanding and appreciation of allegory as a literary and rhetorical concept and tool.
- Critically examine how children's literature helps to shape a child's civic / social / cultural identity.
- Demonstrate an awareness of how legal culture and legal values are developed through children's literature and a young person's literacy-related experiences.
- Demonstrate an ability to critically analyze children's literature and discern the social/legal values that are promulgated by the texts.