LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Grammar Post: Shitty First Drafts

I am hoping that at this point, you all are working on (at least) your first draft of your papers.  We have addressed some of the frustrations about writing in earlier posts, so for this week, I am going to post instead one of my favorite pieces of writing by Anne LaMott titled “Shitty First Drafts” from her book on writing, Bird by Bird.  I think there is something reassuring about knowing that even people who write for a living, and who have been writing for decades, still feel anxiety and frustration while they are writing.  Whenever I get really stuck or frustrated with my own writing, I find re-reading this brief excerpt really helps.


Shitty First Drafts

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Grammar Post: Use Good Research Well

This is the second in a series of posts aimed at helping you with your research papers. Read the first on creating an argument here.   This post is more directly pointed at research, which you should be working hard at, in preparation for your annotated bibliographies, due April 2.

2. You must use good research well.

A key element of this paper is coming up with your own thesis (see #1), but you also need to show that you have done enough research and are informed enough on the topic to make your argument reliable: this is all about establishing your ethos as a writer.  Believe it or not, you all are now experts on Golden Age children’s literature, more than the average person on the street.  You belong to a community of experts and you want to demonstrate that you are in conversation with those experts.  As such, you should be looking for expert opinions to use in your paper.  If you are working primarily on the literature aspect, you should be looking at the peer-review journals that we talked about in the library.  For those of you who are focusing more on the cultural aspects, (marketing, media, bestsellers), there will be peer-reviewed journals that deal with these topics, but you may also be looking at different kinds of experts: the heads of marketing firms, newspaper/magazine editors, publishing industry insiders.  You should all be good at evaluating the sources and should be able to tell the difference between a reliable online source and one that would not be considered academic or trustworthy.  As always, avoid sites like Wikipedia,, or sparknotes.  If you choose to use less reliable sources (blogs, newspapers, magazines), you will need to take a moment to justify your choices in your paper, in order to shore up your ethos.

There are a couple of expert-level ways to incorporate research into your papers.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Introductory Blog Post

For your first blog entry, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the class.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  What year are you in school, and if you have a major, what is it? Please upload a photo of yourself, so we can all start to match names with faces.


Describe your reasons for wanting to take the class, even if it is to fulfill specific requirements. What skills are you hoping to improve or develop this semester?  What books are you looking forward to learning?  What items on the syllabus worry you? Be as specific as possible.

Next, describe your idea of “children’s literature.”  What do you think of when someone says that term?  Do you have a favorite children’s literature text?  Have you taken a class in children’s literature before?  Finally, what do you think the term “Golden Age” means and what questions does that term bring up for you?

Your blog should be at least 300 words long.  This introduction will give you a chance to get familiar with posting on the blog as well as an opportunity to get to know your fellow students. As always, your blog post (and any responses to classmates) should be polished, proof-read, carefully edited and should adhere to the UF guidelines regarding tolerance, respect and a harassment-free class space.

You should also start getting in the habit of using the categories and tags: choose the appropriate category from the box on the right (hint: Introductory Blog is a good place to start), then add subject tags that will help others identify the main ideas in your post (this will be more important later, but it is good practice to start now.) Please refer to the Blog Grade Rubric for specifics on how I will be grading this and future blogs.

If you have questions about how to operate the blog, WordPress has excellent support pages: I recommend you start here, then try here.  Slightly more advanced support on adding images, page splitting (good for hiding spoilers), adding links, and copying/pasting from Microsoft Word is also available. Part of your grade in this class will depend on you learning to use the blog technology to convey your thoughts on our books and discussions to the (limited) public.*

Your introductory blog is due by 11:00 pm on Sunday, January 13

*Access to this blog is limited to invited individuals only, which will likely include class members and select UF faculty.  Personal information about grades should not be discussed here.  The amount of other information you choose to disclose about yourself is a personal choice but please remember nothing on the internet is truly private!

Welcome to Lit 4334!

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