Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG234H1S   L0101   TR10-1
Children's Literature
Katherine Magyarody
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room TBA

Brief Description of Course: What makes literature “for children”? Children’s literature has defined childhood through its articulation for what children are or are not supposed to know or experience through books. This course considers a range of canonical and contemporary children’s literature in order to consider the historical development of the genre and the persistent but changing engagement with narratives of growth, creative escape, cultural and gendered identity.

We will begin with the tradition of folk and fairy tales by Perrault, Beaumont, and the brothers Grimm, before considering innovations, responses, and alternate canons. We will then consider the role of the British Empire in shaping master plots of children’s fiction. How have stories like Robinson Crusoe and Peter Pan continue to influence stories for young adults, like Code Name Verity and small children, like Where the Wild Things Are? Fictional attempts to grapple with British imperial cultural dominance in Nation leads to the next phase of the course. How do texts for children approach “unspeakable” acts of trauma and violence? What lessons should be learned – or unlearned – by reading about the Holocaust, displacement, racism, and sexual violence? What can be said aloud, written down, or drawn? Finally, we will turn to how the voice of the child is imagined and represented. To what extent does the figure of the child-writer in realist fiction free himself or herself through the act of writing? How do these written acts extend the imaginative possibilities or childhood within realistic frameworks?

Required Reading: Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007. Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. 1911. “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Bluebeard,” and “Little Red Riding Hood” from Folk and Fairy Tales, ed. Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. 2009. Fitzhugh, Louise. Harriet the Spy. 1964. Jones, Diana Wynne. Howl’s Moving Castle. 1986. King, Thomas. Illus. William Kent Monkman. A Coyote Columbus Story. 1992. Montgomery, L.M. Emily of New Moon. 1923. Nesbit, Edith. The Story of the Treasure Seekers. 1899. Pratchett, Terry. Nation. 2008. Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are.1963. Schlitz, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl. 2015. Tamaki, Gillian and Tamaki, Mariko. Skim. 2011. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. 2006. Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. 2011.

Method of Evaluation: Essay 1 (30%); essay 2 (30%); exam (30%); active participation (10%)

Link to ARTSCI Calendar Course Description.

Link to ARTSCI Summer Timetable with Room Allocations.

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