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Course Information

Instructor Info:Rachel Conrad
Office Extension x5394
L. Brown Kennedy
Office Extension x5509
TA Info:Dario Lucero
Term: 2014F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108

This interdisciplinary course will combine critical studies of literature with critical approaches to childhood and psychological and psychoanalytic perspectives (particularly the writings of D. W. Winnicott). This course focuses on literary texts written for adults that feature children as subjects as well as texts written for a child audience. We will explore questions about the representation of children and childhood; the relation of child and adult worlds; childhood and memory or forbidden knowledge; and children, imagination, and language. First year students considering this class need to contact one of the instructors. The class will be pitched at the Division II level and will presume strong reading and writing skills.

Required Books: (Available at Amherst Books, Main St., Amherst)

  • Daisy Ashford, The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena's Plan
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, Bronzeville Boys and Girls - 2007 Edition, illus, Faith Ringgold
  • Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy
  • Henry James, What Maisie Knew - Penguin
  • Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day
  • Alice McLerran, Roxaboxen
  • Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
  • Helen Recorvits, My Name is Yoon
  • Virginia Woolf, The Waves - HBJ edition
  • Taro Yashima, Umbrella

All other readings are available online through the course website, and are marked on the syllabus with a **; please print them out or otherwise have the text available in class.

Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance: Your regular attendance in class is crucial for sustaining a coherent dialogue across the semester and building a respectful and open classroom community. Your evaluation will reflect your absences if more than two classes are missed for reason other than illness. If you are absent for any reason, you are still responsible for posting responses and for all other assignments due. 

Reading/Participation: You are expected to come to each class prepared to discuss that day's assigned readings. Regular response posts are designed to help you be in the habit of thinking of questions and identifying passages to contribute to class discussion. A primary pedagogical goal for this course is for students to learn how to "unpack" both difficult psychological or critical theory and complex literary texts.

Assignments: Written assignments for this course include: (1) eight short critical postings on perspectives, (2) a piece of imaginative writing on an early memory using child and adult perspectives, (3) two developed analytic papers (5-7 pages each) with a draft and a revision submitted after peer review, (4) peer review comments on other students' analytic papers (four total), as well as online comments on 1 other student's short critical posting for each posting due, and (5) a take-home final. All assignments (including response postings) must be completed in order to recieve a course evaluation. Assignments must be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced, page-numbered, and stapled. 

Additional Info:

Short Critical Postings: These short essays (200-250 words) will be posted to our course website most weeks. For literary texts, your task will be to go beyond thematic or plot analysis to work with specific details of language, voice, and key phrases or a key passage of the text in order to open a critical question. For critical or theoretical texts, the goal will be to understand key theoretical terms, and to respond to specific questions posted on the course website. These essays may serve as initiation points for your longer papers. Most short critical postings are due on Sundays by 6PM; however, on October 1 and October 15 the critical postings are due on Wednesday by 6PM. In order to receive an evaluation, you are required to have submitted all short critical postings on time.

Preparation Time: In this course, students are expected to spend on average eight to ten hours a week of preparation time. Anticipate more time on weekend assignments and when papers are due.

College Policy on Plagiarism: 

  • All Hampshire College students, whether at Hampshire or at other institutions, are bound by the ethics of academic integrity. College policy can be found in Non Satis Non Scire at under Academic Policies/Ethics of Scholarship. Plagiarism is the representation of someone else's work as one's own. Both deliberate and inadvertent misrepresentations of another's work as our own are considered plagiarism and are serious breaches of academic honesty and integrity. All sources used or consulted in the process of writing papers, course assignments, preparing oral presentations, and artistic productions must be cited. Sources include material from books, journals or any other printed source, information from the Internet, and the work of other students, faculty, or staff.
  • All cases of suspected plagiarism or academic dishonesty will be referred to the Dean of Advising who will review documentation and meet with the student and faculty member. Individual faculty, in consultation with the Dean of Advising, will decide the most appropriate consequence in the context of the class. This can range from revising and resubmitting an assignment to failing the course. Beyond the consequence in the course, CASA considers first offenses as opportunities for for education and official warning. Multiple or egregious offenses will have more serious consequences. Suspected instances of other breaches of the ethics of academic integrity, such as the falsification of data, will be treated with the same seriousness as plagiarism and will follow the same process.

A Note on Computers: We prefer that you not use computers in class. If you need to take notes on your computer or have purchased online versions of the texts, please let us know that in writing by the second class (email Brown at We recommend that you print copies of the critical and theoretical essays available on the course website; alternatively, it is acceptable for you to bring your computer on days when we are discussing these essays.

A Note on Texts: Certain of the literary texts that we read contain material that may be emotionally disturbing. In particular, Virginia Woolf's Moments of Being and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye contain scenes of or references to sexual abuse or self-harm. Morrison's text additionally treats the effects on a child of racism.