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


Instructor: Cathlena Martin
Section: 3698
Office: Image Lab on 4th Floor of Rolfs Hall or Turlington 4409
Office Hours:
Mailbox: 4301 Turlington
Class Times: MWF per 8
Class Room: CBD 310
Class Website:
Class Wiki:
(password: child)
Class Blog:
Class Gradebook:
Class Listserve:

Course Overview:

This course delimits the broad "Issues in American Literature and Culture" to cover specifically American Children's popular culture in literature, film, and media. This will include traditional books, cinema, television, music, video games, pop literature, comics, magazines, zines, and branch into children's material culture of clothes, food and toys. We will explore the changing media of childhood texts and the narratives they produce, situating each text within a historical context and ideological framework.

The American child is a production of a cultural amalgamation of cultural texts. We will be looking at children's culture divided into the following units:

-Introduction: Children's Culture
-Traditional Children's Books: Winning Books
-Popular Children's Media: Television, Blogs and Online Journals, Film and Video Games

For this class, the term "children" is broadly defined to incorporate youth culture as well.

Course Objectives:

1. To analyze the American cultural construction of childhood though children's texts.
2. To learn and practice applying strategies for writing through various forms of media, both traditional papers and online forms.
3. To practice adapting writing to specific audiences.
4. To learn analytical techniques for reviewing image based media.
5. To learn techniques for improving stylistic clarity, concision, cohesion, and coherence.
6. To share ideas, philosophies, and writing strategies related to children's culture.
7. To acquire collaborative team work skills in both oral presentation and research writing.
8. To incorporate technology into collaborative writing and form a community of writers with your peers in which you provide one another with extensive written and oral feedback.
9. To critique and revise your own documents to insure that they fulfill their purposes.

Course Texts:

One Course Pack (available at OBT Orange and Blue Textbooks on 13th Street).
The course pack includes:

Hunt, Peter. "Children's Literature in America (1870-1945)." Children's Literature: An
Illustrated History
. Ed. Peter Hunt. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.

MacLeod, Anne Scott. "Children's Literature in America from the Puritan Beginnings to
1870." Children's Literature: An Illustrated History. Ed. Peter Hunt. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.

Savage, William Jr. "'So Television's Responsible!': Oppositionality and the Interpretive
Logic of Satire and Censorship in The Simpsons and South Park." Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture.

Brown, Gillian. "Child's Play." The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader.
Levander, Caroline and Carol Singley. Eds. New Brunswick: Rutgers, 2003.

Hager, Kelley. "Betsy and the Canon" The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader.
Levander, Caroline and Carol Singley. Eds. New Brunswick: Rutgers, 2003.

Martin-Rodriquez, Manuel M. "Reel Origins: Multiculturalism, History, and the
American Children's Movie. The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader.
Levander, Caroline and Carol Singley. Eds. New Brunswick: Rutgers, 2003.

Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin. "Childhood and Textuality: Culture, History, Literature."
Children in Culture: Approaches to Childhood. Ed. Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Walkerdine, Valerie. "Children in Cyberspace: A New Frontier." Children in Culture:
Approaches to Childhood
. Ed. Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Calvert, Karin. "Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood." The
Children's Culture Reader
. Jenkins, Henry. Ed. New York: New York UP, 1998.

Kline, Stephen. "The Making of Children's Culture." The Children's Culture Reader.
Jenkins, Henry. Ed. New York: New York UP, 1998.

Spigel, Lynn. "Seducing the Innocent: Childhood and Television in Postwar America."
The Children's Culture Reader. Jenkins, Henry. Ed. New York: New York UP, 1998.

Applebaum, Noga. "Electronic Texts and Adolescent Agency: Computers and the
Internet in Contemporary Children's Fiction." Modern Children's Literature: An Introduction. Kim Reynolds. Ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

McKay, Susan, Crispin Thurlow, and Heather Toomey Zimmerman. "Wired whizzes or
techno-slaves? Young people and their emergent communication technologies." Talking Adolescence: Perspectives on Communications in the Teenage Years. Angie Williams and Crispin Thurlow. Ed. New York: Peter Lang, 2005.

Avery, Gillian. “United States.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. Ed. Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006.

Bader, Barbara. American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to the Beast Within. New York: MacMillan, 1976.

Other readings will be posted on-line on the schedule or the class wiki as either as a link or in PDF. You will find a link from the course's schedule web page that opens another window in Adobe Acrobat or leads you to a different website. You are responsible for reading and printing out the material so as to have it in-class when we discuss it.

You may be renting or buying various video games, movies, and books specific to your individual assignments or group project. You may check out books and movies from the UF or public library. If you do not have a console (Xbox, PS2, GameCube), handheld video gaming system (GameBoy, PSP, DS), or a computer that has an adequate video card and want to play video games for the class, then you may rent time at our local gaming arcade, Gamer's Asylum, located on University Avenue.

Class Policies and Requirements

Writing Help: You are expected to be familiar and fluent with the conventions of standard written English. Those needing extra help with such conventions should also purchase a writing handbook and be prepared to visit the Writing Center, as well as sign up for writing conferences with me.

Attendance: This class is developed around group work and collaborative writing. 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 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. However, the first six absences will negatively alter your Professionalism, Participation, and Attendance grade.

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.

You are responsible for contacting a group member or me to find out what material you missed and any work that was assigned. If work is due in class on the day of the absence, the work is due in my mailbox before class. 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).

If you participate in a university-sponsored event (music, theater, field trip, or athletics), you must provide me with documentation from an appropriate authority.

Class Participation: In addition to attending class, you are also expected to contribute class discussions, group work, and participate in workshop sessions with your peers. Learning is not a solitary process, but one that necessarily involves others and I thus consider class participation a very important part of achieving this class’s goals.

Quizzes: I reserve the right to give quizzes at any point in the semester.

University and Departmental Policies

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the unacknowledged borrowing of someone else’s work and is a serious offense with serious consequences. Plagiarism will result in a failing grade on the paper in question and can possibly result in a failure for the course. Please consult the University of Florida’s Honor Code for a thorough description ( Academic honesty requires that all work presented in this class be the student’s own work. Evidence of collusion (working with another student or tutor) or plagiarism (use of another’s ideas, data and statement without acknowledgment and/or extensive use of another’s ideas, data and statements with only minimal acknowledgment) will lead to the procedures set up by the University for academic dishonesty in the Honor Court. There is a clear distinction between learning new ideas and presenting them as facts or as answers, and presenting them as one’s own idea. Unless the work assigned is specifically designed to be completed in groups, all work must be individual.

Essentially, plagiarism means to present the ideas and/or words of someone else as one’s own. You commit plagiarism if you use (without credit):
-Any part of another person’s essay, speech, or ideas
-Any part of an article in a magazine, journal, newspaper; any part of a book,
encyclopedia, CD-ROM, online WWW page, etc.
-Any idea from another person or writer, even if you express that idea in your
own words.
-Any image from a print or online source.

UF Computer and Software Requirement: The following is the official UF policy on the student computer requirement: Access to and on-going use of a computer will be required for all students to complete their degree programs successfully. Effective with the Summer B 1998 term, the University of Florida expects each student entering the junior year, as well as each student new to the university, to acquire computer hardware and software appropriate to his or her degree program. Competency in the basic use of a computer is a requirement for graduation. Class assignments may require use of a computer, academic advising and registration can be done by computer, and official university correspondence is often sent via e-mail. While the university offers limited access to computers through its computer labs, most students will be expected to purchase or lease a computer that is capable of dial-up or network connection to the Internet, graphical access to the World Wide Web, and productivity functions such as word processing and spreadsheet calculation. Refer to the UF Computer and Software Requirement page for any questions ( as well as the CLAS computer policy (

Classroom Dynamics: Because class participation relies heavily on individuals feeling comfortable expressing their opinions, you must always show respect for the diversity of opinions expressed in this class. You must also demonstrate respect for gender, racial, class, and ethnic differences among your colleagues and instructor.

Harassment: Every student in this class is expected to participate in a responsible and mature manner that enhances education. Any conduct that disrupts the learning process may lead to disciplinary action.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.

Challenging a Grade: Any complaints about separate assignments should be addressed to me and not to the English Department. If you have any complaints on the final grade, you may see me or email me. If you find that you still have complaints after our meeting, you may express your complaints on a form in the English Department Office (4012 Turlington). The form and accompanying course material will be given to Sid Dobrin for further action. A review committee may decide to raise, lower, or keep the originally assigned grade. This decision is final. The material submitted will remain on file in the English Department Office. To file this complaint, you will need copies of all of your graded assignments.


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.

Rubric: Here is the brief, general rubric for grades I assign to your papers (you should use the statements to determine how you might work toward a higher grade):

You did what the assignment asked for at a high quality level, and your work shows originality and creativity. Work in this range shows all the qualities listed below for a B, but it also demonstrates that you took extra steps to be original or creative in developing content, solving a problem, or developing a style. Since careful editing and proofreading are essential in writing, papers in the A range must be free of typos and grammatical or mechanical errors (papers with more than one or two errors cannot receive an A).

You did what the assignment asked of you at a high quality level. Work in this range needs revision; however it is complete in content, is organized well, and shows special attention to style.

You did what the assignment asked of you. Work in this range needs significant revision, but it is complete in content and the organization is logical. The style is straightforward but unremarkable.

You did what the assignment asked of you at a poor quality level. Work in this range needs significant revision. The content is often incomplete and the organization is hard to discern. Attention to style is often nonexistent or chaotic.

An E is usually reserved for people who don’t do the work or don’t come
to class. However, if your work is shoddy and shows little understanding of the needs of the assignment, you will receive a failing grade.