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Neverlands: Children's Literature of the Golden Age

Professor: K. Bluemel


Term: Fall

Year: 2012

Course Code: FY-101-EN01

This course asks you to engage in serious study of some of the most beloved texts written in English for children in the 19th and early 20th centuries, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows. Since the field of children's literature is too vast for us to attempt to examine it in full, we will limit ourselves to study of representative texts of English literature that scholars recognize today as "Golden Age" children's literature, an age that corresponds to the height of British industry, empire, and economic power. We will first read this literature with the goal of understanding its diverse representations of children, childhood, and the homes or domestic spheres with which they are associated. Then we will read this literature with the goal of understanding the ways history, and especially the history of British empire, conquest, and expansion away from home, manifests itself in what is supposedly a light-hearted, popular genre. Identifying and addressing the ethical questions that arise from the juxtaposition of these concerns - children and "home" with empire and "away" - will be an important component of our work in the class.