Over fall break, students enrolled in the cluster traveled to New York City to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway and visited museums, special collections, and a publishing house. At the Tenement Museum and NYHS DiMenna Children’s Museum, students toured the exhibits and met with the museum directors. Students also visited the NYU Bobst Library to view the Alice in Wonderland collection and rare examples of children’s books from the 18th to 21st centuries. At Abrams Books, students met with an editor, designer, art director, and marketing staff to learn about the publishing process.
“I love the professors in the program and I’ve gotten really close with a few of my classmates. Being able to be immersed in children’s literature has been awesome! We all genuinely care about the topic and it shows,” says Maggie Morris '22.
The courses combine historical research, theoretical examination, investigation of the reception, and afterlife of important stories. Students study the materiality of some of the best-loved objects of childhood, in addition to the practical concerns of creating stories for children and communicating about the works.
Children's Books Course Descriptions:
Writing for Children:
This course, taught by Creative Writing Lecturer Cordelia Jensen, provides an introduction to writing for children, picture book through young adult, comparing and contrasting books from the Ellery Yale Wood Collection, as well as more contemporary books. In this class, students learn to read as writers noticing, as they read, the craft choices authors make. This course also discusses genre, child development and what special topics writers need to consider as they create stories for young readers. Reading will span contemporary books to classic, include many award-winning titles, and span an age range, books targeted for the earliest readers to young adults. Most significantly, each student creates their own picture book or early reader as well as the beginning of a novel for children or teens. Students also learn to give each other feedback in the workshop setting.
Topics in the Ellery Yale Wood Collection: The Fantastic in Children’s Literature:
This class, taught by Assistant Professor of English Chloe Flower, examines the history of the "fantastic" as a category in children's literature, with a particular focus on books held in the Ellery Yale Wood Collection. Students examine the origins of the "fantastic" in early folk and fairy tales, and trace the rise of ghost stories, fantasy novels, and general tales of magic in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course concludes by examining contemporary children's and young adult genres such as the urban fantasy and paranormal adventure. Students develop both critical reading and writing skills, with a particular eye to considering the ways in which "fantastic" worlds have been used throughout history to shape and reflect perennial questions of identity and community related to race, class, gender and sexuality.
Sociology of Childhood:
This course, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Amanda Cox, examines childhood from a sociological perspective, focused on how children shape and are shaped by their social worlds. The course begins by considering childhood as an historically constructed category that has changed over time and place. Next, the focus is on three institutions that are key agents of childhood socialization: the family, the school, and peers. Finally, students study topics that may be considered problems of childhood: commercialization and technology use, the medicalization of aspects of children’s life experiences, and delinquency and crime. Throughout the course, students consider how children’s lives are shaped by broader systems of inequality based on race, class, and gender.
"Cool Classes" highlights new and interesting classes at Bryn Mawr. Visit the Cool Classes homepage to see more of these stories from across a range of programs and disciplines at Bryn Mawr. For more information about upcoming 360° course clusters, visit the program page.