Philip Nel > Courses > English 690: Children's Literature and the Left (Spring 2004)

English 690: Children's Literature and the Left
MWF 11:30 a.m - 12:20 p.m.
Eisenhower 021
 
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: English/Counseling Services Bldg. 103
Office Hours: Mon., Weds. 9:00-10:00 a.m.& by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours: philnel@ksu.edu
Website: www.ksu.edu/english/nelp/
 
Syllabus last updated on
Wednesday, July 5, 2006
.
Required Texts:
  • L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Michael Denning, The Cultural Front
  • Virginia Hamilton, The Planet of Junior Brown
  • Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
  • Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • Crockett Johnson, Harold's Trip to the Sky
  • Herbert Kohl, Should We Burn Babar?
  • Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig
  • W. Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand
  • Leo Lionni, Swimmy
  • E. Nesbit, The Railway Children
  • Ruis [Eduardo del Rio], Marx for Beginners
  • Margret Rey, Spotty, illus. H. A. Rey
  • Carl Sandburg, The Rootabaga Stories
  • Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!
  • Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
  • Class Pack #1, available in Eisenhower Copy Center
  • Class Pack #2, available in Eisenhower Copy Center
  • Class Pack #3, available in Eisenhower Copy Center
  • Class Pack #4, available in Eisenhower Copy Center
Objectives:
        This class will explore connections between children's literature and twentieth-century left-leaning political movements. We will read children's books by left-leaning authors, children's books that have been perceived as leftist, and books about the Left. In so doing, we will map radical traditions of children's literature, examining what makes a book leftist (and what does not), and investigate how ideologies of the left inform (and do not inform) books for children.
 
Grading: Undergraduates | Graduate Students

Undergraduates:  

Points

Due

Class Participation

100

Daily.

Electronic Bulletin Board 200 Weekly. Grades assigned at midterm, and at end of term.

Presentation   

200

In class, on day scheduled.

Paper

250

Final, 05/10.

Final Exam

250

In class, 05/17, 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m.

Total

1000


Graduate Students: 

Points

Due

Class Participation

100

Daily.

Electronic Bulletin Board 200 Weekly. Grades assigned at midterm, and at end of term.

Presentation  

200

In class, on day scheduled.

Book Review

100

In class, on day scheduled.

Paper (Research Required)

200

Prospectus, 04/23; Final, 05/10.

Final Exam

200

In class, 05/17, 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m.

Total

1000

Requirements: Class Participation and Attendance | Paper | Presentation | Book Review | Bulletin Board

        Class Participation and Attendance:
        Read everything, and come to class prepared to talk about what you have read. On the first day of class discussion for each assignment, you must have finished the reading and be ready to discuss it. By "the reading," I mean all of the text assigned for that day. "Recomended" texts are optional. This class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected, and will count for 10% of your final grade. I reserve the right to assign homework or in-class writing projects that are not listed on the syllabus.
        Although it shouldn't be necessary for me to say this, I'll say it anyway: Class attendance is required. Since the class meets three times a week, you are granted three absences, but more than three will lower your final grade by one grade for each absence (e.g., B would become C). You cannot earn credit for work missed in class. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to discover what went on that day.
        Paper:
        The paper must: be typed (preferably word-processed) and double-spaced; include a title, your name, and the date; and have numbered pages that are stapled or paper-clipped together. Late papers will be penalized one grade (e.g., B+ to C+) for each day late. For a full description of the paper assignment for undergraduates and the paper assignment for graduate students, please click on the relevant words in this sentence.
        Sources: Use the MLA method for documenting sources. Don't plagiarize. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources -- most grammar handbooks provide guidelines for documentation. Always remember: you must cite the sources of any ideas that are not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. If you have any questions, please ask. If you plagiarize, you will automatically fail this course. For more information on Kansas State University's Honor System, please visit <www.ksu.edu/honor>.
 
        Presentation:
        Groups of students will sign up to present some background material for one of our class sessions. Clicking on this sentence will lead you to the schedule. Presentations (10 minutes in length) should provide information which can encourage us to explore connections between the secondary readings and our assigned primary reading (see the Schedule of Assignments). Students should meet with me in advance to confirm the focus of their presentation.
        I encourage you to develop a brief handout (one side of one page or two sides of one page) which you can distribute to the class as a reference to the information and insights you will provide.
        You will need to consult relevant resources (some on reserve, others available in the stacks or other library resources). As you can tell from these guidelines, you should plan to meet with your group at least once in advance of the presentation; I strongly encourage you to meet with me, too. I may be able to recommend some sources for your subject.
        Book Review (Graduate Students): See Book Review Assignment (separate document).
 
        Electronic Bulletin Board:
        Post comments to the bulletin board once a week. An average posting should run about two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings need to be substantive -- long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. The strong bulletin board postings will be clearly written, support their claims with evidence (such as a quotation), and will cite their sources. I will monitor these discussions and assess grades -- once at midterm, and once at the end of the term -- based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness to both our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the bulletin board. You may respond to an existing thread of the conversation or initiate another. I may participate in these conversations, but I see the bulletin board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed -- or addressed fully or to your satisfaction -- during our regular class meetings. Though extra postings to the bulletin board will not automatically replace participation in our class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can certainly improve your class participation grade.
        How to use the bulletin board:
  1. First, click on this sentence. If you receive a message like "Authorization Failed. Retry?" then click on "Retry."
  2. A window will pop up, asking for your username. Type engl690. (Be sure to use all lower-case letters.) Next, type in the password that I gave you in class.
  3. To see all the messages posted to date starting with the newest ones first, click on "Preferences" and set the options to "12 months" and "Mixed Threaded, Reversed." Click on the "View Messages Index" button. You should be able to see all the messages posted to the threaded bulletin board. (If a grey box pops up with the title "Security Information," just click "OK.")
  4. To post, choose to reply to a message or to post a new message. You will have to enter your name, your email address, and the subject of the message. You can preview your message before sending it; then, click "Post Message."
        A note on email: My email address is philnel@ksu.edu. Please use the subject line. Due to the increased volume of spam, messages without clear subject lines will be deleted unread. If you need help establishing an email account and learning to use email, please visit the Office of Telecommunications at 109 East Stadium or <www.telecom.ksu.edu/> to find out what you have to do. Although I do not require you to use email, I encourage you to use email as a way of touching base with me. You can write me with questions, send a thesis statement or outline for an essay, make an appointment to meet me in person, or do anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I tend to check email several times a day, but please keep in mind that I am not on-line at all times. You can access email at the various computer labs around campus: 21 Nichols Hall, 22-25 Seaton Hall, 1-1A Dickens Hall, and 325 Justin Hall and in some residence halls (visit <http://rescomp.ksu.edu/info.htm> and scroll down to "Computing Labs" for more details about resident hall labs).


Schedule of Assignments
Subject to Change
[W] = Web. [CP] = Class Pack. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library). [F] = Film. [*] = Not in Hale Library, so don't worry: I'll bring it in and we'll read it in class.
Note: "through" means "to the end of" (not "up to"). Page numbers refer to the editions assigned.
Introduction: What's Left?
January F 23 Doreen Cronin, Click, Clack Moo (2000).
 
Should We Burn Babar?
M 26 Herbert Kohl, "Should We Burn Babar?" from Should We Burn Babar? (1995), pp. 3-29; Jean de Brunhoff, The Story of Babar (1933) [R].
W 28 Herbert Kohl, "A Plea for Radical Children's Literature" from Should We Burn Babar?, pp, 57-93; L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), through Chapter 11.
F 30 Baum, Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to end
 
M 2 Henry M. Littlefield, "The Wizard of Oz : Parable on Populism," American Quarterly 16 (1964): 47-58. [CP1]; Gretchen Ritter, "Silver Slippers and a Golden Cap: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Historical Memory in American Politics," Journal of American Studies 31.2 (Aug. 1997): 171-202. [W: Click on this sentence to read the abstract; next, click on the "PDF" (at top right) to read the article.]
 
A Child's Socialist Reader
M 2 "Happy Valley," from The Child's Socialist Reader, illus. by Walter Crane (1907) [CP1]
W 4 E. Nesbit, The Railway Children (1906), through Chapter 7; Barbara Smith, "The Expression of Social Values in the Writing of E. Nesbit," Children's Literature 3 (1974), pp. 153-64 [CP1]
F 6 Nesbit, The Railway Children (1906), to end
 
For Beginners: Marx and Nonsense
February M 9 Ruis [Eduardo del Rio], Marx for Beginners (1977).
W 11 Ruis, cont'd; Carl Sandburg, selected poems [CP1]; Rootabaga Stories (1923) through Chapter IV (p. 98).
F 13 Sandburg, Rootabaga Stories, to end; Paul C. Mishler, "Primers for Revolution: Communist Books for Children," from Raising Reds (1999) [CP1]. Presentation: Carl Sandburg.
 
From Red Diaper Babies to the Cultural Front
M 16 Julia Mickenberg, "Red Diaper Girls," from Girlhood in America: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2001) [CP1]; M. Boland, "A B C for Martin" from Martin's Annual, ed. Joan Beauchamp (1935) [CP1]. Presentation: Red Diaper Babies.
W 18 Julia Mickenberg, "'For Young Revolutionists': Children's Literature and the Communist Millieu, 1925-1935" (draft of chapter, 2004) [CP1]; Helen Kay, "Battle in the Barnyard" from Battle in the Barnyard: Stories and Pictures for Workers' Children, illus. J. Preval (1932) [CP1]; Martin Waddell, Farmer Duck, illus. Helen Oxenbury (1991) [R].
F 20 Denning, Introduction and Part One from The Cultural Front (1996).
F 20 Lecture: Julia Mickenberg, "Children's Literature and the Left." 3:30 p.m., Hemisphere Room, Hale Library.
 
Picture Books for Pacifists and Proletarians
M 23 Denning, Chapter 5.
W 25 Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand, illus Robert Lawson (1936). Presentation: Munro Leaf's Story of Ferdinand: A Controversial Best-Seller.
Th 26 Lecture: Michael Patrick Hearn on Wizard of Oz. Hemisphere Room, Hale Library, 3:30 p.m.
F 27 Ben Martin, John Black's Body (1939) [CP2]; James Thurber, The Last Flower: A Parable in Pictures (1939) [R]; David McPhail, Mole Music (1999) [*].
 
March M 1 NO CLASS
W 3 NO CLASS
F 5 Denning, Chapter 8; A. Redfield, Mr. His (1939); Syd Hoff, Boss Tweed and the Man Who Drew Him (1978) [both CP2]; David Engerman, "Give a Party for the Party" (reproduces pamphlet illustrated by A. Redfield, c. late 1930s), American Communist History 1.1 (2002), pp. 73-89 [W: Click on this sentence to read this article]. Presentation: New Masses.
 
Racism and Anti-Racism
M 8 Denning, Chapter 9
W 10 Langston Hughes, selections from Simple Speaks His Mind (1950) [CP2]. Presentation: Langston Hughes.
F 12 Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (1932); selected poems [CP2]. Recommended: Testimony of Langston Hughes, March 24, 1953 ("McCarthy Transcripts Released," All Things Considered, NPR, 7 May 2003).
 
M 15 Margret Rey, Spotty, illus. H. A. Rey (1945); H.A. and Margret Rey, Curious George (1941) [R]; June Cummins, "The Resisting Monkey: ' Curious George,' Slave Captivity Narratives, and the Postcolonial Condition," ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 28.1 (Jan. 1997), pp. 69-83 [CP2].
 
Looking Back on the 1930s
W 17 Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy (1999), through Chapter 8. Resources: Photos from the 1930s and 1940s.
F 19 Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy, to end. Presentation: Teaching History in Public Schools.
 
Dr. Seuss
M 29 Denning, Chapter 10; Dr. Seuss, WWII cartoons (1941-43). Presentation: PM.
W 31 Seuss, Horton Hears a Who! (1954), Yertle the Turtle (1958), Philip Nel, "Dr. Seuss vs. Adolf Hitler: A Political Education, " from Dr. Seuss: American Icon (2004) [CP2].
April F 2 Seuss, The Sneetches (1961) [R], The Lorax (1971) [R], The Butter Battle Book (1984) [R]
 
Power in a Union
M 5 Henry Vicar [Henry Gregor Felsen], The Company Owns the Tools (1942) [CP3].
W 7 Vicar [Felsen], Company Owns the Tools [CP3].
F 9 Clara Hollos, The Story of Your Coat, illus. Herbert Kruckman (1946) [CP3]; Michael Bedard, Sitting Ducks (1998) [R]; Toby Speed, Brave Potatoes (2000, illus. Barry Root) [*].
 
Crockett Johnson
M 12 Crockett Johnson, New Masses cartoons [CP4]
W 14 Johnson, "Barnaby: Mr. O'Malley Arrives" (1942), "Barnaby: the O'Malley Committee" (24 Nov. 1943 - 25 Dec. 1943) [CP4]
F 16 Johnson, "Barnaby: O'Malley Enterprises" (15 Feb. 1945 - 26 May 1945) [CP4], Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955), Harold's Trip to the Sky (1957)
 
Bank Street School
M 19 Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illus. Clement Hurd (1947) [R]
W 21 Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig (1952); A Very Special House (1953) [R]
F 23 Prospectus DUE (Graduate Students).
 
Allegories for Progressives in the 1950s and 1960s
M 26 Garth Williams, The Rabbits' Wedding (1959) [R].
W 28 Walt Kelly, "Who Stole The Tarts?" from The Pogo Stepmother Goose (1954) [CP4]; Leo Lionni, Swimmy (1963). Presentation: Walt Kelly.
F 30 Eve Merriam, Mommies at Work (1961) [R]; Leo Lionni, Frederick (1967) [R]. Presentation: Leo Lionni.
 
Stories from the 1970s and later
May M 3 Free to Be You and Me (1974): shown in class.
W 5 Virginia Hamilton, The Planet of Junior Brown (1971). Presentation: Virginia Hamilton.
F 7 Hamilton, Planet of Junior Brown; Vera B. Williams, A Chair for My Mother (1982) [R]; Maurice Sendak, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993) [R].
 
M 10 Present and Discuss Final Papers. Paper DUE in class. See separate pages for undergraduate and graduate student paper assignments.
W 12 Present and Discuss Final Papers.
 
M 17 Final Exam, 11:50 a.m. - 1:40 p.m. You must take the final exam on the day and at the time scheduled for your section. NO EXCEPTIONS. MARK YOUR CALENDARS.

RESOURCES

for English 690: Children's Literature and the Left

Syllabus for English 690: Children's Literature and the Left
   
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