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Wild Things: Children’s Literature and the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child

ENGL 1427.401
also offered as: COML 1427/GSWS 1427
MW 5:15-6:44pm

This course on English-language children’s literature, from the nineteenth century to the present, will range all the way from the simplest picture-books, folk stories, and nursery rhymes to “grown-up” books commonly read by children and teens. We will explore both the form and content of these works in tandem with our study of the complexities of child-development from birth to early adulthood. Psychoanalysis and neuropsychoanalysis will provide our chief frames of reference for understanding early dependency, attachment, and object-relations; parenting and family life; creativity and play; curiosity and encountering the world; psycho-sexual development from infancy to post-adolescence; and childhood experiences of socialization, education, loss, abuse, transgenerational trauma, individuation, separation, and identity-formation. We will read works of children’s literature by authors such as Ludwig Bemelmans, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens, Madeleine L’Engle, John Green, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Ezra Jack Keates, Harper Lee, Astrid Lindgren, Mary McLane, A. A. Milne, George Orwell, J. K. Rowling, J. D. Salinger, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Kay Thompson, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and E. B. White. In tandem with these authors’ works, we will read psychoanalytic and neuropsychoanalytic writings by authors such as Sigmund and Anna Freud, Hermine Hug-Hellmuth, Melanie Klein, René Spitz, Joan Rivière, Jacques Lacan, D. W. Winnicott, Margaret Mahler, Erik Erikson, Bruno Bettelheim, Jean Laplanche, Daniel Stern, Avgi Saketopoulou, Jan Panksepp, and Mark Solms. Course requirements will include several short writing assignments and a variety of in-class exercises, including an in-class presentation and active participation in seminar discussion. (No mid-term or final exams.)

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 5 19th Century (AE19)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Gender/Sexuality Concentration (AEGS)
  • Theory & Cultural Studies Concentration (AETC)
College Attributes
  • Foundational Approach: Cross Cultural Analysis (AUCC)