Reading & Composition
Childhood and the Persistence of Youth
In his poem “Diary,” Pier Paolo Pasolini writes “Grown up? / Never — never —! Like existence itself / which never matures — staying always green.” Indeed, the mystery and nostalgia of childhood often lingers into adulthood. For some, childishness persists over time; for others, childhood is shortened by circumstance. Looking at literary texts and films from the sixteenth century to the present, this course will examine how writers and artists represent childhood and the roles that children fulfill in their families and environments. We will ask whether the dividing line between childhood and adulthood is as clear as we might assume and we will consider the many, often contradictory ways in which childishness is defined. For some writers childhood is a time of innocence and purity; others push against this, depicting children as crude and immoral. As we look carefully at these depictions of childhood, we will also consider how artists explore broader themes such as memory, consciousness, and morality.
This class fulfills the university’s first semester requirement for Reading and Composition. As such, this is a writing-intensive course that focuses on building an essential skill: the argumentative academic essay. Assignments will focus on close reading and literary analysis. Over the course of the semester, we will work on developing persuasive and complex written arguments through drafting, peer review and revision.