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AML 2410 Fall 2006
Issues in American Literature and Culture:
American Children's Popular Culture in Literature, Film and Media



Once you have set up your online gradebook account, which we will do in class, you can access your grades through the online gradebook. Please keep a running total of your grades for yourself in case I miscalculate or there is a technical difficulty with the gradebook.

Your final grade will be calculated in the following manner:

Professionalism, Participation & Attendance 10%
Show and Share 10%
Blog 10%
Reflection Journal/Reading Notes 10%
Caldecott Essay 15%
Review One 10%
Review Two 15%
Group Project 20%

Grading Scale:
Grading scale for your final course grade:
A: 90-100
B+: 87-89
B: 80-86
C+: 77-79
C: 70-76
D: 60-69
E: 0-59

The University of Florida does not use “minus” grades. So you can’t receive a B- as your final grade for this course. However, other class work may receive minuses to allow for a more precise evaluation of the quality of your work. Rounding up for final grades is not an absolute.

Remember, my office hours are Tuesday 11-3 in the ImageLab on the 4th floor of Rolfs Hall. Please come see me about any assignment.

Major Assignments

All assignments must be completed and submitted at the beginning of the class period on the due date assigned and in the assigned format. Each assignment will have specific features; however, essay assignments must be typed in Times New Roman and double-spaced on white 8 1/2" x 11" paper with one-inch margins on all sides. Essays that do not fit the required format will automatically be considered late and be deducted one letter grade. You will turn in BOTH a hard copy and an electronic copy. The hard copy will be taken up at the beginning of class and the electronic copy should be emailed to me ( before the class period the assignment is due.

These assignments are due in class and in my inbox, at the beginning of class, on the dates indicated. Your assignment grade will be dropped by one full letter grade for every day it is late. Also, there will be additional assignments and materials not indicated on this sheet (all changes will be posted on our class schedule on my webpage), and both this schedule and individual assignments are subject to change AND WILL CHANGE.

Some assignments are individual, while others are group based. If the group assignment is late, everyone in the group is penalized. However, it is not an absolute that everyone in the group receives the same grade. I will conduct both self and group peer evaluations as a means of monitoring the work load balance within the groups.

If you are going to be absent on the day that an assignment is due, email the assignment to me BEFORE our class period and it will not be considered late.

Proposed Writing Assignments:

Assignment Format
- Standard 81/2"x11" white paper with 1" margins on all sides
- Double spaced
- Typed in black ink, Times New Roman, size 12 font
- MLA style with your name, the course title and section number, my name, date in the top left hand corner. Put the location of screening, date of screening and the movie title at the bottom of the your last page. The title of the report (something more interesting than "A Report on Chicken Little") should be in the center of the page. The heading and title should NOT be repeated on subsequent pages.
- Page numbers with your last name in the upper right-hand corner of all subsequent pages
- Stapled in upper left-hand corner
You will also turn in an electronic copy via email attachment in either .doc or .rtf. These should be emailed to me at before the class period that the assignment is due.

Use the MLA Guide from Purdue if you need any formatting help.

Professionalism, Participation & Attendance 10%

You are expected to regularly attend class and vigorously take part in class discussions. You should be prepared with questions and comments for every lesson, engage the materials that we cover, and actively employ critical thinking skills. You will not only be expected to converse about the primary and secondary texts, but to test (via class participation) your critical thinking and interpretive skills. You must also take part in peer review workshops, in-class assignments, and various other group activities. Failure to regularly participate in class discussions, as well as missing any workshop or group project day, will negatively affect your participation grade.

This class is developed around group work and collaborative discussion. Absences not only affect you, but they affect your group members. Therefore, to learn professionalism and team work, and because class attendance is critical to your understanding of class material, you are allowed only six absences over the course of the semester. After six absences, your final grade average will be dropped a letter grade for every day missed. The first six absences will negatively alter your Professionalism, Participation, and Attendance grade. Tardies (arriving late in class or departing class early) are not acceptable because they are disruptive, and, beyond any excused tardies, class participation grade and overall grade will be affected (3 tardies = 1 absence).

According to the Student Catalog: "Students are responsible for satisfying all academic objectives as defined by the instructor. Absences count from the first class meeting. The university recognizes the right of the individual professor to make attendance mandatory. After due warning, professors can prohibit further attendance and subsequently assign a failing grade for excessive absences." If you have excessive absences, whether excused or unexcused, you will fail the class.

Show and Share 10%
Assignment Description and Specifications
Over the course of the semester, you will be required to bring in objects for show and share. For most of these dates you will need to include a bibliography and summary of the show and share book on the class wiki. American children's culture is a VERY broad field and the show and share times help provide primary examples from childhood to expand the theory texts of the class.

Blog 10%
Assignment Description and Specifications
You will practice writing through an online Blog dedicated solely to this class. Each week will feature a choice of "Forum" topics on the Discussion Blog. You must post the equivalent of a 100 word minimum response each week to your choice of the forums for the given week. You may earn up to 15 points per week. You can earn up to 10 points for your response to the Discussion Blog forums and 5 points for "replying" to classmates' postings. You must post before the deadline each week-Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. ET. (Warning: Don't wait until the last minute-Late postings do not qualify for points!)

In general, your postings must be made within the assigned week, and will earn points based on their coherency, creativity, evidence of thoughtfulness, courteousness, pertinence to the topic, and absence of excessive BS. In other words, you're encouraged to use Discussion Blog to write creatively, adventurously, experimentally--but you should demonstrate that you've given some thought to your response. No points will be given if your posting is woefully inadequate. (Mistakes in grammar or spelling will not be penalized here-unless they're so intrusive they make your writing unreadable.)

Your "reply" to a classmate's postings carries no minimum length requirement, but you will gain all 5 points only if your reply demonstrates depth of thought and courteousness.

Be aware that the blog is on the internet and is not password protected. While it is not a public blog and only linked from my webpage, it is still on the internet. You may include items from your journal in the blog.

Directions on how to post to the blog are detailed on the blog site in red. Please read these instructions before you begin posting.

Reflection Journal/Reading Notes 10%

In a separate notebook designated only for this class, you will keep a journal over the course of the semester, to be turned in twice (around the semester mid-point and near the end of the semester), in which you respond to the class readings, activities and films. You may keep this journal electronically through the main class wiki if you do not want to hand write the journal. You must discuss every class reading assignment. This can include a summary, thought, questions, etc. But go beyond your general impression of a work; cite specific facts and include the page numbers. Relevant comments from class discussion may also be incorporated, and illustrations are also welcome (such as sketches that might help you to think about a visual idea under discussion), if you find these helpful. Entries should begin with the date written and the material covered whether that is a book title with pages covered, a film title, or a more general heading like class discussion. Each entry should be at least a page (aprox 250 words). The easiest way to use this journal is to keep it with your class texts and write notes as you do the class reading and then bring it to class and take notes either while we are discussing or directly after class. Consider this a workbook of childhood, a space within which you can think about ideas, argue with the readings, synthesize critical texts and films, and begin processing the material you will work through more formally in your papers.

The response is a chance for you to work out your thoughts about a reading on paper before the class discussion itself. I may call on you to read selections from them to the class from time to time to facilitate discussion. Consequently, you should avoid writing "filler" or "b-s" just to meet the minimum writing requirements, AND you should bring your journal to class every day.

Your journal should include an entry for every class reading assigned as well as the following:
-Alice in Wonderland at the Hippodrome
-review of a Newbery Award book of your choice

Caldecott Terms and Criteria Analysis Essay 15%
Assignment Description and Specifications
- At least 3 FULL pages (which means at least one word on the 4rd page). There is no maximum page limit.
- When you decide which Caldecott winner you would like to analyze, edit the Caldecott class wiki page to list your text (first come, first serve - only one text per student).
-Remember, if you cite from any text, including your Caldecott book, you must include a Works Cited Page.

Essentially you are analyzing your picture book through the terms and criteria of the Caldecott Award. Make an argument explaining why your text is worthy of the Medal.

Media Reviews (choose two of three)
General Review Guidelines:

The first step in a review is to describe the work and its topic. The trick is to provide the necessary summary in as short a space as possible. You will repeat the author's ideas, not your own, so this section should only be a small part of your review. Do not have excessive plot summary.

The second task is to describe the work itself. This is essentially determining audience and purpose. In short, what was the author trying to do?

Having determined the author's goals, you now explain whether the author achieved those or other goals. This is the meat of your review. This should be in the form of a critique and include opinions backed up with examples from the text (show, film, or game). Remember, this is not just a summary, but an evaluative review, which means you need to evaluate the text.

While you do not need to like the work you are reviewing, please remember that criticism is more than complaint. If you find a problem (or a praise) for the text, be sure and fully explain your position and back it up. If you argue that something is bad or unsuccessful, be sure to suggest something that fulfills your criteria better.

Write your evaluative argument in the form of an editorial for a "popular" medium, such as a magazine or newspaper. (You don't need to choose a particular one.) In other words, assume that you're writing for a general audience, and use an appropriate writing "voice." Also, make sure that you make a realistic argument, and confine the scope of your argument. In other words, you'll find it easier to argue that Paper Mario is best in game in the Mario series than that it's best game in the world.

You should write no less than 2 pages (one word on 3rd page) with a maximum of 4 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman font (12 pt.), with 1" margins. Use MLA formatting guidelines.

Review of a Children's Television Series
Assignment Description and Specifications
- At least 2 FULL pages (which means at least one word on the 3rd page. There is a 4 page maximum limit.
- When you decide which series you would like to review, edit the Television Review off the class wiki page to list your game so that I may approve it.

You will be expected to watch several children's television shows. You must watch at least four episodes of a program to get a jist of the series.

The Alachua County Public Library has some children's television series on VHS.

To write an outstanding review, you should consider:
* appeal to its intended audience
* choice of topic and its suitability for the intended age group
* quality of the story including
* aspects of plot, characters, audience and purpose

Review of a Children's Film

Assignment Description and Specifications
- At least 2 FULL pages (which means at least one word on the 3rd page along with the location of the screening, date of screening, and the movie title at the bottom of the final page. There is a 4 page maximum limit.
- A ticket stub or some other indication that you did indeed see the movie stapled to the front if you saw a movie in the theatre.

View at least one theatrical-release films outside of class and submit a review on the film. You may also choose to illuminate how your viewing experience was influenced by the space and audience where you screened the film. Plot summary should be limited to no more than a short paragraph. Instead of copious amounts of summary, you should attempt to analyze one or two key aspects of the film in terms of what you have learned in this class and how they work to define your overall response to the movie. What does this film say about childhood? How does it reflect or deny childhood? What about the visuals? You are very much encouraged to express your personal response to the film; nonetheless, your opinion should be thoroughly supported.

Grading Criteria
- Clearly articulates the viewer's response to the film
- Demonstrates a knowledge of course material and how the film can be illuminated by the concepts, theoretical gestures, and formal issues covered
- Displays familiarity with whole film through an analysis of a few key aspects
- Utilizes concrete examples from the film in order to support the chosen aspects
- Limits plot summary
- Exhibits an engaging and professional voice
- Correct grammar and word usage

Review of a Video Game (E for Everyone Game) Geared at Children
Assignment Description and Specifications
- At least 2 FULL pages (which means at least one word on the 3rd page. There is a 4 page maximum limit.
- When you decide which game you would like to review, edit the Game Review off the class wiki page to list your game so that I may approve it. This game will provide you with a basis for discussion in class and will also provide primary sources for your group Wiki project.

For the video game review assignment you will make an evaluative or arguable claim about a particular video game - this will help focus your review. You can choose to evaluate anything about the game that you want as long you choose a stance that might provoke some disagreement.

Grading Criteria
Your work will be evaluated on argumentation (originality, depth of critical thought), organization, evidence, and grammar/mechanics.

Children's Culture Group Project and Presentation 20%
Critical Components
- Topic choice (this is 1st come-first serve posted to the class wiki)
- Group topic proposal
- Group progress report
- Group Presentation
- Final Wiki Research Project

American children's culture is a VERY broad field that can be addressed from multiple angles including media studies, education, sociology, psychology, ecology, economics, etc. To help incorporate diverse approaches, each group will research a topic pertaining to American's children's culture that interests them. In class we will have looked at several topics including award winning pictures books and children's media. You can use these as a springboard for what type of topics you could consider. Your group will propose your topic to me for approval. While the topic can cover any aspect of American children's culture, sometimes topics need to be more focused. For example, instead of researching Newbery Award winners, a group may want to focus on Newbery Award winners of the 1970s. Or, instead of researching children's toys and toy culture, a group may want to focus on children's electronic toys for girls.

Possible Sample Topics:
-Animated children's movies in the 1980s, 90s, or 2000.
-Educational websites for children
-Media Tie-in websites for children (websites that connect to another medium such as television)
-Newbery Award winners dealing with a similar topic (ex. presentation of historical moments)
-Board books for children
-A specific juvenille series (ex. Lemony Snicket)

Remember, you can approach any aspect of American children's culture from any other discipline (ex. eduction, economics, journalism, sociology).

Sample children's literature research papers can be found in the course pack (all of the articles that we have read this semester) or in the Children's Literature journals such as The Children's Literature Quarterly, The Lion and the Unicorn, and Children's Literature.

Remember, this is your formal research paper of the class. You will be expected to have a works cited page (in MLA format) consisting of at least 4 scholarly book citations and 4 scholarly journal citations. You may of course use more and you may cite websites.

Assignment Format (for the Group Project)

For this assignment, you will have a chance to experience a collaborative learning and research process. Focusing on one particular aspect of American children's culture, as part of a group you will conduct research into its history, theoretical foundations, and narrative, formal, and generic characteristics. You have use of the class wiki to help facilitate your group's research paper. It should include an introduction, a thesis, evidence and research, and a conclusion. You should situate your topic in relationship to children's culture whether historically or theoretically.

Your group will find that examining a few key primary texts of objects in relation to their overall structure and meaning in children's culture rather than attempting to explain everything about this aspect of children's culture will best serve your argument. Do not attempt to cover every possible meaning and element of the topic. Do give an overview, but strive to focus on what you feel are several of the most significant elements and fully develop them in relation to the larger movement or genre.

Each group will be assigned a wiki for their group project. The project will be written as a linear paper, but it can use visual elements either in the paper or posted on the wiki. The wiki allows more creativity with images and links if you want to include this aspect as a suppliment to the paper.

Assignment Description and Specifications
- The group will select a topic and post it to the class wiki
- The group will submit a formal topic proposal in which the group briefly outlines its proposed thesis, the texts it will be examining, and the individual assignments of how the work is to be divided.
- The final project will consist of a 10-15 page research paper. This does not include the works cited page.
- The final project must include a works cited page (in MLA format) consisting of at least 4 book citations and 4 journal citations. You may use more and you may cite websites, but the other is a requirement.
- A group presentation in which EVERY MEMBER participates equally. This presentation should be creative in nature, can include film/TV clips, can include some sort of class interaction, and take roughly 30 minutes.
- Finally, each group project must include a self and peer evaluation.

Your group should take 30-40 minutes to teach the class, in a creative and engaging way, about what you have learned throughout your research. You should show your wiki and provide an interactive presentation that gets the class interested in the cultural topic you are discussing. Each member should participate and NO ONE should read the paper off of the wiki. You are teaching the class, and the presentation should reflect your knowledge of the subject at hand.

Grading Criteria

- A clear and powerful thesis statement (or "topic sentences")
- Adequate evidence that clearly supports your thesis and includes concrete details/OR, if you are doing the introduction and conclusion, clearly establishes the historical framework in a critical context and supports this with concrete details
- Direct quotation from at least 2 sources that support your thesis and are well incorporated into your argument
- A professional and engaging voice and tone
- Correct grammar, mechanics, and word usage
- Adequate organization, depth, creativity, and clarity of argument
- Evidence of extensive revisions and improvement from rough draft
- Adequate research on topic

- Presentation is creative, engaging, and thoroughly covers the points in your group argument
- Each member contributes equally