20th century childrens literature and lore
FORMAT: Typed, double-spaced (except for long quotes, which should be indented, single-spaced and documented), proofread. How long should it be? I’m interested in substance, not length. However, your responses should be in essay form rather than catalogue or list or bullet points. Document your work by adding a work cited page. Don’t spend much time retelling the stories–I’ve read them! No need for the plot. Use some critical sources along with Griswold book. Try to avoid Wikipedia except for initial overview. Avoid online summaries altogether.
DISCUSSION: Must cover all of the books listed.
Choose FOUR QUESTIONS out of the following choices and write a detailed, specific response-essay, using as much of the material as you wish. You must, however, cover every literary text in detail at least once and all FIVE concepts from Griswold. You can use critical material and other books to back up your ideas if you wish but support your ideas with material from the assigned texts.
Note: You are writing four separate essay responses. You do not need to cover all of the materials in each essay but, rather, throughout the entire exam. You do not need to repeat the questions in the responses but use the corresponding number. You also do not need a lengthy introduction or conclusion. Make your writing lively and personable; using “I” is OK with me! Use paragraphs!
ESSAY CHOICES: (choose four questions)
1. Compare and contrast ONE of our readings with the movie version. Come to some conclusions about what the differences mean (analyze your findings!!!). Don’t retell the stories but interpret your findings in terms of patterns (psychological, sociological, historical, choice of country, etc.).
2. Create an essay about the picture of childhood you get from these classics of 20th century children’s literature and lore. (Lore: games, rhymes, beliefs, etc.—e.g. material from your presentations).
3. Discuss some of the gender issues. What picture(s) do you get of male and female roles? Of marriage? How do the gender issues relate to historical ones (representation, wish-fulfillment, projection, etc.)?
4. Some scholars believe children’s literature and lore teaches lessons about correct behavior. Argue this pro OR con, describing the kinds of lessons, punishment, rewards, behavior, etc.
5. “Let the wild rumpus start!” According to some scholars, children’s literature and lore is actually a subversive genre, where children are heroes, grownups are fools, role reversal is the rule, and chaos–not order–prevails. Argue this pro or con, supporting your ideas with examples.
6. “Children’s lives are not all sweetness and light, despite what grown-ups would like to believe.” (Griswold) Create an essay about the presence of scariness, terror, pain and death in children’s literature and lore.
7. Animals, even talking animals, populate a lot of children’s literature and lore. Discuss the unusual status of animals. Come to some kinds of conclusions about the preponderance and use of animals in children’s literature and lore.
8. “Like talking animals, like animated toys, with these alive things we encounter a conscious universe . . . For the child, the world is a personable place . . .” (Griswold) Create an essay about “aliveness” in children’s literature and lore.
9. “Everything is made out of Magic,” [Colin says] “leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us.” Whether you interpret that statement as make-believe, spirituality, realism or fantasy, or religion—or all of the above–children’s literature and lore is a magical world. Create an essay about this concept, backing it up with examples.
10. One of the striking features of children’s literature and lore is the playfulness of language. Discuss this, using lots of examples.
11. Just because the famous touchstones of children’s literature and lore are part of our history and tradition does not mean they are appropriate for our children today. Argue this pro or con.
All of the following literary texts must be mentioned in your essays
- L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=qbV65PabTEYC&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA1.w.1.0.0
- J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan
- Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
- E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
- Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon
- Dr. Seuss, Cat in the Hat
- Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
- A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
- Edward Gorey, The Gashlycrumb Tinies.