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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Greetings!

Hi! My name is Alexa Zelinski.  I was born in Youngstown, Ohio but grew up in not so far away Jacksonville, Florida.  I love books, cats, and crafts.  But, believe it or not, I am not actually an 89 year old woman- see attached picture for proof. Image I am a third year English major at UF, but am technically a senior by credits and will be graduating in December of this year.  That’s a scary thought, to be honest! I am minoring in both Anthropology and Business and am hoping to get into the publishing business when I graduate- wish me luck.

I’m taking this class because I am following the English department’s “Children’s Literature” model of study and this is the last course on my list! I’m hoping to improve my class participation skills because I’m a rather quiet person so I’m going to try to speak up more.  I am most looking forward to reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.  It was one of my favorite stories as a child.  In third grade, I read Carroll’s original book, and watched every movie adaption I could get my hands on!  Nothing on the syllabus worries me too much, other than remembering to post my blogs on time…

My idea of children’s literature has changed a lot since I came to college and took courses on the subject (Children’s Literature, Literature for the Young Child, Adolescent Literature, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales).  When someone mentions children’s literature, I think of  any book which is read and enjoyed by a child.  Children’s literature doesn’t necessarily have to be read exclusively by, nor does it have to be written specifically for, children.  I feel that children can read books traditionally written for adults, and vice-versa.

Some of my favorite children’s literature texts are J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (I think this one’s a given for many people in our generation), Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline, and Kay Thompson’s Eloise.  I may be in the market for some new favorites soon.  Currently, I am working my way (albeit slowly) through 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.  Read all about my progress on my blog, which can be conveniently found right here.

Lastly, when I think of the term “Golden Age,” I think of a time when everything is working in unison- talented authors, engaging stories, a willing audience.  I feel like timing has a lot to do with the creation of a “Golden Age.”  I also think that it is a time that is often looked back on with longing and held to a higher standard, even if the time itself did not always live up to the hype that surrounds it, the designation of a time period as a “Golden Age” carries with it a romantic, nostalgic notion.

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Introductory Blog: Nicole Georges

kid lit Hi! My name is Nicole Georges and I am a senior graduating in Political Science with a double minor in English and Theatre. I am from St. Petersburg, Florida.

I have always loved reading and as a result of growing up as an only child, I found solace and comfort from the characters that I would read about. While my outgoing personality never allows much room for silence, I am most comfortable when I find a good book that can make me forget about what is going on around me.  My love for reading began as a child, which is to some extent a  reason for taking this course; to go back to a time of innocence and naivety where my main concern was to stay up later than my bed time in order to get to the next chapter of a book. As I’ve grown older, it has become increasingly more difficult to find the time to appreciate literature, and I am hoping that this class will rekindle the love I felt every Friday night when my dad would take me to Barnes & Noble to get a new book.

It is difficult to say which text I am looking forward to reading most, because each of  these novels has in some way shaped my reading as a child. However, what I am most looking forward to in this course is the ability to revisit these timeless classics to take a more analytic look in order to assess a deeper meaning and message that I may have missed prior.

My idea of “children’s literature”, and more specifically, the Golden Age of this genre, is that this is the beginning of the imaginative minds of many children. In the fables of Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glassand The Wonderful Wizard of Ozchildren are given the ability to imagine a world completely separate from reality, to dream of the impossible. Children’s literature gives our youth the ability to use words in order to traverse to an unknown world that is not only timeless, but infinite with possibilities of what we can accomplish for the future. While I have never taken a children’s literature course before, I am anxious to learn this semester about how the novels that have shaped my life, have also shaped the lives of others and the literary community. The term “Golden Age” refers to a time in literature that is revered not only for its timelessness, but also for how it demonstrates a time of historic excellence that continues to shape society today.

While I have enjoyed many classics growing up, I find it difficult to narrow it down to one book as my favorite. I will say though, that children’s literature has helped me become the reader I am today and has opened my imagination to think outside of the box. I am extremely excited to learn more about these stories in order to continue the discovery of these the literary legacies.

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Introduction – Athena Kifah

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Hi! I’m Athena, a fourth year  English Major/ Education Minor here at UF. I’m from New Smyrna Beach (which is near Daytona) and I like my town a lot – even though I never really want to live there again. I like the ocean, diet coke, ice cream, butterflies, good TV and sleeping.

This is my fourth children’s literature course (counting Grimm’s fairytales), and they have been, by far, my favorite classes at UF. I’m an education minor and plan to go into guidance counseling, so it’s a particularly interesting and applicable subgenre for me. While I love the opportunity to delve into childhood classics (and to discover those books that were classics for others), I particularly enjoy considering the ways in which these literatures affect those first learning to read (or whether or not they do at all).

Out of the texts in the syllabus, I am most looking forward to Peter Pan – one my all-time favorite stories. I think it is so beautifully heartbreaking that Wendy and Peter share such an adventure and yet at the end of the story, Wendy grows up and Peter forgets all about her (spoiler alert). We think of this as Children’s literature and likely it is but can children truly appreciate that kind of loss and separation? Or are children more able to understand it than even we are? 

“Golden Age”? What a tricky moniker. It’s difficult and controversial to canonize in any genre and in such a fledgling one as this, perhaps no truly definitive classifications can be made. I think also that children’s literature is so highly generationalized – our affinities for our favorite childhood stories are so necessarily tied up in nostalgia and some vague concept of home. “Golden Age”, perhaps, is more accurately affixed to the idea of childhood in general, to those fleeting “carefree” and “easy” years.

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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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Introduction

IMG_0483   Hello everybody,

My name is Joanna Klager and I am entering my final semester here at the University of Florida.  I double majored in English and Linguistics with a TESL focus.  I am in love with the outdoors, hiking, climbing, camping, canoeing, skiing, and sand volleyball are among some of my favorite activities. However, living in Florida can make hiking and climbing pretty difficult so in an effort to get out of the rock gym for a while I spent the summer in North Carolina teaching rock climbing to young girls at a summer camp.  Being at summer camp and not having the ability to get books whenever I wanted I began to borrow books from the campers. They all bring about ten with them to camp.  This had me reading books that I had not read in a very long time.  I also decided to jump on the Hunger Games bandwagon, great decision.

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I had never taken a Children’s Literature class before but with my renewed enjoyment in these sorts of books I decided to take a look in to taking one.  The syllabus looks absolutely lovely and I do not know where to start on what I am most excited about.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Goblin, and The Secret Garden are among the ones I am  happy we are reading.  To narrow it down a little further I am looking forward to Lewis Carroll’s works.  My boyfriends Grandfather is a huge fan of Carroll and is even a part of the Lewis Carroll society which gathers every year in England for a dinner and reading of The Hunting of the Snark.  I was lucky enough to spend a portion of the summer with him and he taught me a lot more about Carroll. I am very interested in being able to revisit these works and see what new things I can take away from the novellas.  Also, The Princess and the Goblin is of great excitement for me because not only do I love this book but I also always enjoyed the film version and am excited to see how my readings/viewings of these texts have evolved with my age.

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I think some of my favorite “Children’s Literature” reads would have to be A Little Princess, The Phantom Tollbooth, To Kill a Mockingbird and, Little House on the Prairie.  My favorite picture book is definitely Goodnight Moon and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

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The concept of “Children’s Literature”  to me entails reading anything that would spark the imagination  of child.  I also think it entails reading novels which are written with a difficulty appropriate for a child to read.  The range of Children’s Literature should in my opinion be vast and not limited to the novels that appear on  a school reading list.  The Golden Age emerged from Greek mythology and referred to the “Ages of Man.” According to the Greeks the Golden Age was the period of time where things were most prosperous and eventually would lead to the Iron Age, which is the period of decline.  I think the concept of the “Golden Age” for literature is a period of time when people believed things were a little better for novels. It was during this time that noteworthy fiction was being written.  Writers were creating utopian fantasies in their works as a means of preservation for childhood.  I do not believe that this means that the only noteworthy texts for children have already been written, I also do not think we should put limitations on who the readers of these texts should be.

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Introductory Blog Post: Cody Smith

Hey everyone! My name is Cody Smith and I am from Tampa, Florida. I graduated from Robinson High School in the IB program and obtained my IB diploma. I am currently studying for an English major (which I recently changed from Criminology) and soon a Spanish minor as a sophomore in regard to my year, but as a junior in regard to my credit hours. I plan to become a teacher of English, either as a high school teacher (which I also plan to attempt to reform our system of education) or a professor. If I achieve that goal, I also plan on writing on the side in hopes to publishing my poetry and/or narrative works. I still haven’t decided which graduate school I want to attend, but a few more years to think about it will help me narrow the decision. On a more personal note, I love music, movies, books, and writing. I love attending music festivals and concerts and make a note to read all of the best books and watch all of the best movies ever year.

I am taking this course primarily for two reasons: to take a class 3000 level or higher to adhere to my critical tracking and to learn more about a largely underrated section of literature. Since I haven not taken an English course since fall of Freshman year, I feel as though my writing and reading skills have gotten rusty. This class involves plenty of writing and reading, which I hope will aid me in bolstering my skill as a writer and ease me into my old reading habits and improve upon my concentration level as I read. I am interested in learning more about Alice and Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio, the former of which I read in the past and loved.

My idea of “Children’s Literature” entails a text’s ability to not only entertain children but to also teach them about life, whether the story involves a moral lesson or a warning disguised as a conflict. In addition, I believe children’s literature should aim to entertain adults and perhaps reinforce what they already know about life (or even enlighten them about an idea they may not have considered). If I had to pick a favorite Children’s book, I would probably pick Alice in Wonderland for its nonsensical plot line and themes. I have yet to take a class about children’s literature, but I am still very excited to read all the books and learn more about the subject matter. For me the term “Golden Age” hearkens back to an idea where all media and thought represent an apex of quality and innovation, which possesses much greater influence over every subsequent time period up until another golden age. I wonder, though, what exactly contributes to a golden age, particularly the time period surrounding it and the lives of the authors.

Here’s a picture of me from Freshman year, still looks a lot like me:

Me

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Introductory Blog: Catherine Woodcock

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p.s. that’s my dog, Scout!

My name is Catherine Woodcock, I’m a senior here at the University of Florida with a major in Political science and two minors in English and Mass Communication.  I am from Jacksonville, Florida (more specifically Ponte Vedra Beach if you know the area) but I spent half of my life living in England too as my dad and extensive family are British.

I have been an absolutely avid reader since early childhood and have always loved books, a quality that I think is what drew me towards taking this course.  The books I read and loved as a child heavily influence my idea of “children’s literature”. I think this genre, for me, is primarily composed of books that are colorfully written with imaginative stories, poems, and songs that entertain and stimulate the minds of children from ages two to ten.  When I hear the term “children’s literature” I can’t help but to think of that vibrant section of the bookstore with train tracks, carpets, and miniature chairs and tables filled with books of all shapes and sizes.  It conjures in my mind the books that my father read, I read, and the ones that I read to my young cousins today.  I believe that it is a cross-generational and encompassing genre that, to many varying people, reflects many differing personal inclusions and definitions highly subjected to everyone’s individual childhood experiences and memories.

Though it is difficult to choose my favorite childhood text I think I would probably have to choose The Twits by Roald Dahl.  I was devoted to anything Roald Dahl as a kid but this short novel I read countless times and truly adored.

I have never taken a children’s literature class before but I am so excited to start this course to relive and re-examine the enduring works we will be reading this semester.

The term “Golden Age” of children’s literature for me can be described, not fully but to a certain degree, by the word timeless.  They are the books that have done just that, stood the test of time and are, for the most part, staples of the general population’s childhoods across countries as well as generations.  The questions that this term inspires within me surround a growing curiosity I have concerning how we determine the qualifications that make a piece of literature timeless.

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Introduction

Hi, my name is Bethany Gugliemino. I am a third year Art History major with a minor in English. I am from Niceville, Florida, but my dad used to be in the Air Force so growing up I lived in several different places, including Japan, Texas, and Illinois. I graduate in December, and I then plan to pursue a Master’s in Art History and eventually work in an art museum. My dream job would be to work in the Victoria & Albert Museum or the Tate Britain in London.

I am taking this class to finish my minor, but I also chose it because I have never taken a class in children’s literature and it seemed like a topic I would enjoy. I am particularly interested in the “Golden Age” aspect of this class and in examining why and how certain books are designated as “classics.” When I think of children’s literature I generally come up with two different categories, picture books and child-oriented chapter books. I tend to associate the term more with chapter books for children because I remember reading chapter books much more than I remember reading picture books.

There are two books on the reading list that I am especially excited about. The first is The Secret Garden because it has always been one of my favorite books and it is responsible for my fascination with sprawling, mysterious houses and rambling, overgrown gardens. The second is The Princess and the Goblin. This was one of the first chapter books I read as a child, but I had forgotten about it entirely until I stumbled upon a copy at the FOL book sale last year and I am looking forward to finally re-reading it. I also find it entertaining that when I first read it, I thought of it not as a children’s book but as my first “grown-up book.”

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Introductions

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Greetings everyone! My name is Sarah Clow, and I happen to be attending the University of Florida despite being from Tallahassee. I’m a third year Japanese major, but I am also minoring in English. As a result, I am taking this class in order to complete my English minor, but mainly due to my interest in Children’s Literature. I always enjoyed reading fairy tales and fantasy novels as a child, but never really read the classics like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, which is why I would like to read them and explore the field now that I have the opportunity.

For this course, I am especially looking forward to reading Peter Pan. I started reading it on Project Gutenburg last semester, but only had a chance to fly to Neverland. I would very much like to complete the story and examine the contents a bit.
In terms of skills, I am always hoping to improve my skills as a writer. I find that while paper writing may be possible, it is never an easy task, and I would love to learn how to grow in that aspect.
The portion of the syllabus that concerns me the most is the participation portion. I am a naturally shy individual, hence it is always difficult for me to convince myself to participate in classes.

When it comes to Children’s Literature, I automatically think of Alice and WonderlandPeter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz. I also think of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Great Expectations. In my imagination, the classic books that belong under the category of Children’s Literature should be thick, heavy, decadent books with hand drawn illustrations. I feel that the term “Golden Age” refers to the time period where the Children’s Literature texts were flourishing in the Victiorian era, when the texts were viewed as not only children’s stories but works of art. My favorite text is that of Alice and Wonderland. I love the idea that a young girl has fallen down a rabbit hole in her mind.

This is my first course in Children’s Literature, but I hope I get the opportunity to take a couple more before I graduate. My hope is to understand how much of my preconceptions about Children’s Literature and The Golden Age are correct and what is incorrect, and learn a vast deal more.

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