Image: Illustration from The Velveteen Rabbit; or, How Toys Become Real (1922)
In this class we will read a range of stories for children from the eighteenth century to the present to explore how understandings of childhood and children’s literature are embedded in their cultural contexts. We will analyze how literature for children constructs the difference between childhood and adulthood and give special attention to how these stories participate in and resist systems of racial and gender difference. We will return across the semester to toys and animals: two figures that often think, speak, or look like humans in children’s literature, and therefore help us think about how children are taught to be human.
Readings may include Robinson Crusoe, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Black Beauty, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Charlotte’s Web.
Assignments will likely include reading responses, an annotation assignment, an analysis of a scholarly article, and an essay.