LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Introduction – Victoria Garcia

Hiya! My name is Victoria Garcia and this is my last semester at the University of Florida. I’m an English and Political Science double major with a minor in French. I went to school in Miami, Fl but moved around a lot when I was younger. I was born in Montevideo, Uruguay and then moved to Nassau, Bahamas, then moved to Glen Rock, New Jersey and then finally ended up in Miami. My parents moved back to Uruguay, so I split a lot of my time between here and there. Coming back from break, I was detained at customs because I think they thought I was either a prostitute or a drug mule. (I am neither!)

I decided to take this class because my cousin took it last semester and she legitimately raved about it all the time. She did that thing that some people do with the “sign” on your 21st birthday and her “sign” had a children’s literature theme with every task having to do with a children’s book. (i.e. Find your Christopher Robin and get him to buy you a Whiskey the Pooh). It was cute, if you’re into that stuff.

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That’s the sign. Cute, right? (I’m the one on the right).

I’m looking forward to reading most of these books which I’ve read before but learning the social and historical context behind their writing and publishing and how these constructions trickle down even to affect children. I’m worried about going back to reading really flowery language and pages and pages describing landscape. Maybe that’s not really English major-y of me, but I hate that. I’ve gotten into the habit of only reading and taking more modern English classes and am dreading the Romantic influence.

 

 My idea of children’s literature is any text that is targeted toward children or is eventually enjoyed by children. This is my first children’s literature course but I read like it was my job when I was a kid. One time I spent $40 at the book fair at my school and this girl gave me shade for it.

I think the term “Golden Age” connotes a time when children’s literature began to change. Like we discussed in class, childhood became more valued and writers began narrating their works differently. I also think of it as a retrospective term in the sense that we can look back at that time now knowing its influence so we name it as such.

Also, right before this class I take a Queer Theory class where we talk about the historical implications of penetration and things of that nature so I really appreciate the juxtaposition of the two courses. Thanks ISIS!

 

 

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Hi, I’m Sandra.

Hi, everybody.  My name is Sandra M. Mejia.  I am a 5th year student majoring in Psychology and Japanese with a minor in English and a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate.  I am a New Yorker at the core since I moved to Florida during high school.  My hope is to go back to the north after finishing schooling here in Florida and teach high school English. Also, due to my interests and having studied abroad in Japan, I want stop in Asia to teach at some point in the near future, but we’ll see what happens.

from January 2011

Here is a picture of me.  Be warned: my hair color changes often.  🙂

Now onto why I am taking this class.  As I said before, I want to teach high school so I thought a course on Children’s Literature would be relevant.  Now that I’ve seen the list of books we’re reading, they are definitely quite relevant, and I think it’s interesting that we’ll be analyzing them.  I’m looking forward to reading everything on the list, especially the books I’ve never even heard of like The Water Babies and The Princess and the Goblin.  I am a little worried that we have spent too much time talking about whether or not it is valid to study children’s literature or not and why it matters, so I hope we don’t come back to this topic.  Why would we have the class if it wasn’t valid, you know?  I think it’s completely valid as a field of study, and I don’t see why studying the Harry Potter series would be any different from analyzing the content and meaning of Moby Dick.  If you look at literature studies in general, it’s basically a bunch of bookworms who love to read and study what they read.  You could almost say that about any field of study in higher education.  They are full of people who are really interested in a topic and just want to share it with the rest of the world, so why not?

As for what I think defines “Children’s Literature,” I’m not sure what else to say besides children’s literature is made up of the books written with children as the intended audience and any books children themselves actually pick up to read.  I’ve never thought about trying to define what kinds of books children’s literature is comprised of, and when I was child (baby age to about 8th grade), I was quite the bookworm and read all kinds of things.  I actually don’t really care which books are defined to be children’s literature because every child is different, and how quickly they develop and age don’t always match whatever is considered “normal” or “average” so I think whatever list that would be is irrelevant when considering what a child will actually read.  However, a list would be useful to help parents in choosing books for their children when they might not know what to pick up themselves.

Anyways, I’m excited to read all the books assigned for this class and to gain new perspectives on the ones I read when I was younger.  🙂

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Introduction

Hello all,

My name is Tyrel Clayton, and I am a third year student, majoring in English.  I am from an itty bitty town called Live Oak, Florida, to which I hope never to return. I make bad jokes that most people don’t get. I enjoy swing dancing, and devote most of my time and energy to perfecting that activity. I also like Doctor Who, Pokemon(,) video games, and Sherlock. I look like this on my bad days. Which is most of them.

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I wanted to take this class because I enjoy learning about Children’s Literature.  It takes away a great deal of the stress associated with dealing with an “adult” book because its content is accessible to everyone, and everyone can reasonably add something to a conversation about children’s books. I also love the fact that a field which is based on such (so-called) simple books is actually quite complex and difficult to deal with (at least in studies with other academics).

I’m looking forward to working on my analysis skills.  Children’s books are perfect for this because  their simplicity requires you to actually work at analyzing them, you can’t just pull something out of the complex heart of darkness in the middle and run with it.

My idea of Children’s Literature is pretty straight forward: literature/books I would give or read to my kids. This, for me at least, is a pretty broad definition, and ranges from the obvious (The Cat in the Hat, Winnie-the-Pooh) to the slightly unexpected (The Hobbit, Harry Potter) to the books you might raise an eyebrow at (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet) to the, “Wait, what?” (The Canterbury Tales).

I have taken one class on Children’s Literature before, with John Cech.

I think the term “Golden Age” means the greatest era on the timeline of Children’s Lit history. It refers to when the best books were coming out–the books that we base all the other books on, the timeless books that we can still relate to today.

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Introduction: Alex Haley

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Hi kids, my name is Alex Haley. I hail from Tarpon Springs, in the Tampa Bay area, though I was born and raised in Jamaica. I’m a third year English major focusing on children’s literature, as well as a recently declared Mass Communication minor. My concentration on children’s and YA literature stems from my desire to eventually work as a development editor for YA books. I remind myself daily that this is a legitimate career goal, but I suspect that my interest in YA books only exists because I never ‘grew up’ and started reading ‘real books.’ I currently love the fairy-tale-retellings trending in YA books.

This class fits in nicely with my literary interests. I’m excited for all of the reading, especially Five Children and It, which I adored as a child. I am also interested in studying what makes these ‘classic’ texts so timelessly appealing. The group project is the most worrisome (does anyone actually like group projects? Please correct me if you do), but I’m sure a project with students in an upper level course will be much better than the ones I had to endure in high school.

For me, children’s literature includes any text that was published with children as the intended audience. I took Cech’s Children’s Literature course and Ulanowicz’s Adolescent Literature course last semester, and the latter was definitely the best class I’ve ever taken. I think the term ‘Golden Age’ means the classic, turn of the century works for children that evoke the strongest nostalgia for childhood.

When I’m not reading, I enjoy collecting vintage clothes, riding horses and swing dancing. (The facebook group link is here for any interested parties). I also sing for a twelve piece 1930’s and 40’s jazz band, which is definitely not as cool as it sounds. I’m one of the only two members under sixty.

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Lauren Leshansky: An Introduction

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Salutations fellow literature lovers,

My name is Lauren Leshansky and I am an English major currently finishing my 4th year of undergraduate. I transferred from Miami-Dade Honors College with an Associate of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, however, after reporting for two years (and simultaneously taking creative writing classes) I realized studying literature and writing poetry was what I truly enjoyed doing. Upon entering UF, I swiftly changed my major to English and applied for a spot in an upper division advanced writing seminar.

Although I haven’t taken a children’s literature course prior to this one, I am eager to delve into the fantastical world, which intrigues and fascinates so many children. I hope that analyzing children’s literature will help my future aspiration to write a children’s book in collaboration with my brother, who is an extremely talented illustrator. Also, I am excited to revisit stories I have forgotten about over time. The Little Prince is one book that impacted my childhood greatly, and although it’s not part of the curriculum, reading other “classics” will undoubtedly invigorate my love for children’s literature.

Outside of the literary realm, I am a lover of music. I play guitar, bass, and drums, and am currently attempting to start an all girl electro-pop punk band. I also started a basketball crew this past summer called, “The Creepy Brawlers.” If anyone is interested in joining either of these, let me know!

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Introductory Blog

Hi there, I’m Heather! I’m a second year accident-prone and occasionally awkward English and Linguistics major from Miami, Florida. I’m a herpetology assistant at the Museum of Natural History on campus and I’m an assistant director of Social Media in Student Government Productions. I was originally a Zoology major but decided to change my major once I realized 1) I hate math and chemistry and 2) I understood every reference in the English Major Armadillo meme. I love Star Wars, pugs, LOST, and traveling (I’m working on going to a national park every summer; I’ve got Yosemite and Denali down).

As an English major, I have a particular interest in (you guessed it…) literature, especially children’s lit. I’ve often been described as a child at heart and perhaps this is true. My favorite movie is Disney’s Peter Pan and my favorite book is Burnett’s Secret Garden. Therefore, selecting this class was a no-brainer (though I did have to stalk ISIS for about 12 hours straight).  When I was a kid, I spent most of my time reading (perhaps this is why I am the way I am) and I often found myself enjoying books more than anything else. With that said (or rather, written) I’m definitely looking forward to Burnett and Barrie, but I’m interested in the entire list of works as a whole. I’m also looking forward to further developing writing skills, as there is no such thing as a perfect writer. I’m also looking forward to this class because my best friend back home is in the process of writing a children’s book published by Scholastic. To popularize the book before its release, her and I are taking a cross-country tour through the US and Canada in the summer along with some folks from Scholastic. I’m sure this class will definitely enrich my experience and of course, my enjoyment of her book (which is actually a series!).

Children’s literature is absolutely timeless and allows one to re-experience the glories of childhood as well as immerses the reader in a world that is much more magical than our own. Lighthearted and whimsical, children’s literature creates a new experience for adults and perpetuates the magic of imagination and fantasy. It allows childhood to extend far beyond the years before double digits. Though I have never taken a course on children’s literature, I am looking forward to a new experience and I hope I won’t be disappointed. With a course called the Golden Age and a syllabus that is reminiscent of years long ago, one cannot go wrong.

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Rebekah’s Introduction

I am Rebekah Fitzsimmons and as you know, I am the instructor for this course.  I am a PhD candidate in the English department and I have been at UF for 5.5 years.  This is the first time I have taught Lit 4334, but I have taught many other classes, including ENC 1101, ENC 1102, AML 2070  and AML 2410.  I specialize in children’s literature, cultural studies and American literature.

I am originally from New England: I was born in Connecticut and went to high school in Pleasantville, NY (and no, it is nothing like the movie.)  For my undergrad, I attended Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  I majored in English and Creative Writing.  After I graduated, I worked for their Office of International Affairs as an event coordinator before applying to graduate school.

My masters thesis was on best seller lists and the “Harry Potter effect” in 2000, when the New York Times created a separate children’s literature best seller list because Harry Potter 1, 2, 3 and 4 were taking up too much space on the “real” best seller list.  My dissertation is (so far) about the ways in which experts in the publishing and child rearing industries have changed the definition of children’s literature in order to suit their own needs.  My aim is to graduate with a PhD in Children’s Literature in the spring of 2014, then go on to teach English and Children’s literature at the university level.

The major question on my mind while I designed the syllabus for the class was: “Who gets to decide which books become a classic?”  The Golden Age of Children’s literature is generally thought of as a time of immense production of literature aimed at children but many of the books that we consider to be children’s literature classics were written during this time.  I am curious to think though some questions about the canonization process, social hierarchies and various forms of expertise that allow an individual or an organization (like the American Library Association) to give awards, recommend texts and deem a book to be “a classic.”  Over the course of the semester, I hope we will question the meaning of that very word, “classic” and come to understand what people really mean when they use it to describe a work of children’s literature.

Just as you all have goals for your writing, I am also working towards some very serious writing goals.  I have been working on an academic article about The Hunger Games for a year or so, and I am hoping to submit it for publication this year.  I am also working on the second chapter of my dissertation.  I am very much looking forward to this semester, as I hope you are too!

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Cristina Paneque Introductory Blog

My name is Cristina Paneque and I am a senior journalism major and English minor. I am originally from Miami and was the first member of my family born in the United States. I am graduating this May and plan on attending law school next fall. Aside from academics I am very active at the University of Florida. I am the treasurer of the Study Abroad Peer Advisors in the International Center, the social director of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-law Fraternity, on the Phi Alpha Delta Mock Trial team, and on three different dance teams at Salsa Caliente Dance Studios.

I took this course because all the other literature classes I’ve taken have focused on one geographical region, such as British literature, Latino and Chicano Literature, and Greek and Roman Mythology. In this class I hope to focus on literature for an age group but across several regions. The skills I am hoping to improve are my critical reading and evaluating skills.

The books I am most looking forward to reading are the stories in The Classic Fairy Tales because I am interested to see how these versions differ from the Disney ones, and also because the Disney stories were a huge part of my childhood. The part of the syllabus that most worries me is the reading quizzes, because there are no make-ups even for legitimate excuses. I hope to not have to miss class so I can get these points.

My idea of children’s literature is short stories that leave an impression on children’s behavior. Also, I imagine a large part of children’s literature as fantasy stories. My favorite fantasy children’s stories have always been Where The Wild Things Are and all of the Disney princess stories. I’ve never taken a class on children’s literature before, but I hope to learn more about the Golden Age, and what about this time period contributed to the production of today’s classics. I want to learn about how the economic and cultural circumstances in both Britain and America changed the content of children’s literature.

 

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Introducting Shanequa Conage

Hello, my name is Shanequa Conage and I am fourth year English student that will be graduating this May. I am also  pursing two minors, one in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences and the other in Education. After graduating in May, I plan on attending Nova to pursue a master degree in Early Childhood Education and Reading; during this time I also plan on teaching at a elementary school back home in Jacksonville.

I am taking this course to first fulfill my English degree requirements but I am also taking the course because I believe that it will help me with my future career in the education field. This course will help me with my future career because it will introduce me to many different aspects of children  literature. These different aspects probably will help me to better understand the texts, so that I am able to better teach them to my students.This semester I am hoping to improve on my analysis of children literature, in order to better explain and teach children texts to my future students. This semester I am looking forward to reading the following books: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Pinocchio, and The Jungle Book; I have watched movies on many of these books and I have heard good things about these books so I am excited to read these books for myself. There are really no items on the syllabus that worry me, everything is pretty straight forward and easy to understand.

My idea of “children’s literature” is literature that is tailored towards the reading pleasure of children. Children literature are stories that are usually interesting to the children but also have moral lessons behind them that parents/adults believe that children should know. However, children’s influence on children literature is limited even though the literature is meant for them.  Some of my favorite children’s literature text are the David series written by David Shannon, these are books that I believe start teaching young children manners and right/wrong when it comes to certain issues. No, I have not taken any children’s literature classes before but this semester I will be taking three children literature classes; and I am very excited to be taking them. I am not sure what the term “Golden Age” means and what it has to do with children literature, but I am interested to learn more about the term and what it has to do with children literature.

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