“'How old did you say you were?'” Humpty Dumpty asks Alice in Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice's well calculated reply, “Seven years and six months” doesn't seem to satiate this notorious egg-shaped creature, who immediately snaps the following wonderful remark at her: “Seven years and six months! An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you'd ask my advice, I'd have said 'leave off at seven' – but it's too late now.”
Bearing in mind Humpty Dumpty's reflection on the perils of growing up, in this class we will follow the adventures and misadventures that children face while inevitably moving toward adulthood in an ever changing culture and time. Through a close, attentive reading of both literary and theoretical texts (as well as film and other media) dealing with childhood and coming of age in different locations and cultures at the turn of the twentieth century and the beginning of the 21st, you will be introduced to the principles of academic composition and the art of critical analysis. You will practice and hone your academic writing skills by thinking, discussing and responding to scholarship drawn from the fields of cultural studies, sociology and anthropology, gender and women's studies, and history. Primary sources will include short fiction, poetry and novels by Toni Morrison, Jean Paul Sartre, Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Allison, Marjane Satrapi, and David Grossman, among others.
Course requirements include the submission of four revised papers, in addition to in-class and at-home shorter writing assignment.
Since this is a discussion-based class, there will be a special emphasis on active class participation, and we will spend much of our time in a workshop environment, talking about each other’s writing. Over the course of the term, we will focus, as writers and also as active readers, on the creation of complex, analytic, and well-supported arguments.