Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Coming Semester

This semester, I'm coordinating ATS2519 and ATS3519 (same unit, different levels), Children's Literature.

The books we'll be looking at include:

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Emily Gravett, Wolves

Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book (Penguin edition, intro Daniel Karlin)
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
Shaun Tan & John Marsden, The Rabbits
Julie Vivas & Mem Fox, Possum Magic
Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief

We’ll also be sampling from Beatrix Potter’s The Flopsy Bunnies, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Ruth Park’s The Muddle-headed Wombat.

It's funny, isn't it? Yet entirely sensible. When looking at English Lit. units, one tends to think less about the overarching themes and epochs and more about the books themselves. Of course, the downside is that there are always going to be books on the curriculum that people don't like or find boring. This is okay. Although occasionally you have to prevent scuffles over whether Rowling is overrated and don't even mention Meyer. All healthy debate, though!

This year, I changed up the books a little. I'd been teaching Little Women. I really like Little Women. I read all the books about Jo's life and cried over the melodramatic Jo's Boys. But, as I confessed to students, Anne of Green Gables was always my favourite. Students would ask why I didn't teach Anne instead. I guess because she was and is my favourite. Yet, I realised that I was being a bit silly about it. I can forgive Little Women its obsession with goodness, but oh how refreshing to read Anne again and find that she very often wasn't trying to be good, but that she wholeheartedly stood up for herself. Who doesn't love that she cracks Gilbert over the head with her slate for calling her 'carrots'? Or that Marilla sympathises?

Oh... that's the one catch in teaching Anne. I've reread the books and reread the books, but I've likewise seen the miniseries with Megan Follows far too often (although, not The Continuing Story and A New Beginning). I get the books and the mini series mixed up. That is going to be a struggle this semester!

I've also added Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I like to try to include new books (ie from this century) and this one has a great advantage. You can follow Gaiman's reading of the book here. How fantastic is it that today we can hear and see the author read their work, no matter where we live? I think this is an underestimated benefit of the digital world for literary studies.


Heidi Anne Heiner said...

Oh, yes, I would be intimidated at first to teach Anne, but I would love it, too. I agree she is my favorite and I made a pilgimage to PEI to prove it. :)

Amanda Harrison said...

Will this subject be offered at Monash University next year, Semester 1 2013? This Reading List looks fantastic!