EN3CL-Children's Literature

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring / Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Karin Lesnik-Oberstein

Email: k.b.lesnik-oberstein@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module examines issues around children’s literature and children’s literature criticism and questions wide-spread popular assumptions about how to read and write about children’s literature. Students who do not wish actually to challenge and develop their own thinking, reading and writing about children and children’s books should not, therefore, take this module! Through in seminars closely analysing a range of children’s literature from the twentieth century and later, the module questions and analyses critical assumptions and formulations around authorship, memory, observation, readership, and identity. Some of the texts will be set by the module convenor whilst further texts may be chosen by the seminar group. 

The module questions popular assumptions about writing for children and its role and criticism, and considers how ideas about authorship and readership are constructed within the criticism of children's literature. Students will be asked to analyse texts closely for cultural constructions of childhood, and to analyse their own critical language and assumptions.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module the students will be expected to:
•Question critically assumptions about childhood and reading
•Exercise skills of close textual analysis, especially as a critique of the way
children's literature texts are often assumed to be 'simple' or 'transparent'.
•Demonstrate an awareness of the theoretical and methodological issues
pertinent to the module throughout their own critical formulations and readings.
•Question assumptions about authorship and means of textual production central
to Children's Literature as a genre produced by adults 'for' children.
•Connect the issues and implications of this module to related issues on
other modules.

Additional outcomes:
Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. The module will enable students to critique popular assumptions both about and within 'children's literature criticism', including wider ideas about textual 'simplicity', for instance, as well as enabling them to follow the wider implications of viewing 'childhood', but also any other identity, as a variable historical and cultural construction.

Outline content:
The module critiques popular assumptions both about and within ‘children’s literature criticism’, emphasising that children’s literature is a body of works written, produced, and distributed by adults, and also that ‘childhood’ is a variable historical and cultural construction. Students start by reading and analysing set texts, namely Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, Edith Nesbit’s The Story of the Amulet, A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Students will be asked throughout to question their own critical formulations and assumptions, s they relate to ideas of authorship, texts, readership and response, and as all of these elements in turn are related specifically to ideas about the child and childhood.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 129.5 40
Total hours by term 160.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 0
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
This module is assessed by two pieces of work: two assessed essays of 2500 words, each worth 50%. Feedback will be provided on both elements of the summative assessment.

Formative assessment methods:
Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark:

Students write one formative essay, of between 1500 and 2000 words.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 25 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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