ENGL 3367: Ethical Implications of Children's Literature
An opportunity to revisit childhood favorites and to make new acquaintances, armed with the techniques of cultural, literary, and philosophical criticism. This course ranges from fairy tales through picture books and young children's chapter books to young adult fiction. This course will examine literature from an ethical perspective, particularly notions of morality and evil, with emphasis upon issues of colonialism, race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Examples of texts: Snow White, accompanied by critical essays; picture books such as Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Amazing Grace, Curious George, Babar; chapter books for young children such as Wilder, Little House on the Prairie; White, Charlotte's Web and; books for young adults such as L'Engle, Wrinkle in Time. This course will include workshops on picture books and racial, ethnic, and gender representations. Students will produce a final project in accord with their interests.
Martha Satz, assistant professor in the English Dept, has won numerous teaching awards. She has published articles concerning children's literature in journals and anthologies. She exploits her dual background in philosophy and English to bring ethical problems to bear on literature. This course, nearly a decade old, has garnered a great deal of popularity in the traditional curriculum.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
- Students will write an essay employing psychoanalytic, feminist, or sociological criticism to fairy tales.
- They will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the “un-text” (visual aspect) of picture books by giving an oral presentation on a specific book.
- They will demonstrate their knowledge of the history of gender and racial portrayals by giving a presentation applying this knowledge to a specific book.
- They will be able to discuss knowledgeably philosophical views embodied in particular texts for young children.
- They will be able to take a position on censorship of children’s books with a knowledge of the history of that issue.