As a literary analysis, this paper will be an interpretation of the meaning of a piece of children’s literature we studied in class. You will make a claim about its overall meaning.
To get started, you will select a topic for the paper (3 options listed below) and choosing a primary text (the piece of children’s literature you are interpreting) that coincides with the topic (listed towards the end).
Use library research to locate 5 scholarly sources (for instance, a peer-reviewed journal article or a chapter from an academic book) that support the paper.
3 Topics of choice:
Gender Roles: Critical theorist Judith Butler compares gender roles to performing in a play. Day by day, the choices we make about how we talk, walk, and dress are part of how we live out these gender roles. Literature is an important space for children to see how to “do” gender.
Analyze how one of the texts from class represents what it means to be a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, and how the author communicates this position on gender roles. Does this text rely on stereotypes or move beyond them? Book choices (pick one): The Princess and Curdie, Esperanza Rising, or The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 for this prompt.
Diversity: In many ways, children’s literature is a mirror that the child looks into searching for herself or himself, which is one of the reasons a diversity of representation in children’s literature is so important.
Furthermore, representations of diversity (ethnic, racial, religious, or other forms of diversity) can promote connection across differences and growth in empathy, but it is not only important to represent diversity in children’s literature but also to be sensitive, accurate, and supportive in these representations.
Interpret what one of the texts we read for class is saying about diversity and how the narrative, characters, and descriptions bring out this message. Book choices (pick one): Esperanza Rising, Inside Out and Back Again, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, or Wonder for this prompt.
Loss: Many works of children’s literature prominently feature trauma, loss, and grief and model responses to this loss. Choose a text from class that features a prominent trauma or loss (such as the death of a loved one, a near-death experience, or a move from home).
What is the text saying about the nature of loss/suffering and how does the writer communicate that with the narrative, characterization, and description?
Consider to what extent must the child navigate this experience alone and, if helpers and mentors are present, who they are. Book choices (pick one): Esperanza Rising, Inside Out and Back Again, or The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 for this prompt.
Completed in the following stages:
Write a 7-page minimum draft of your research-based literary analysis in MLA or APA format (cover sheet and reference pages are not counted in the total pages)
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