Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
October 17, 2011 - November 11, 2011
Live sessions: Wednesday October 19, 26, November 2 & 9, 5pm-6pm PST
Instructor(s): James R. Kincaid
Program type: Short Courses
This course considers what childhood is for various cultures and times, why "the child" serves so many different functions, and why our current culture imagines children (and, while we're at it, adolescents) as it does. That is, instead of thinking of "the child" as something in nature, a kind of given, we will ask what sort of cultural needs our idea of children serve. To get at this, we'll read parts of some histories of childhood, some famous short stories, poems, and two classics, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. Then we'll consider the way childhood features in contemporary pop culture: songs, theatre, movies and advertisements. And all this time we'll be talking about how memory works, what we really know about our own childhoods, and beginning (if we want) the process of writing about our own early years.
Related Faculty and Instructors
James R. Kincaid is Aerol Arnold Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Winner of two Guggenheim Fellowships and many National Endowment for the Humanities awards, he is author of seven books (one of these a novel) and countless essays and reviews. His early work was in Victorian literature and culture; in the last decades he has worked in the broader areas of cultural studies, more particularly in the relationship between childhood, ideas of protection/danger, and eroticism. He has served as expert witness in some trials, in the U.S. and abroad.
Live sessions: Wednesday October 19, 26, November 2 & 9, 5:00 - 6:00 PM Pacific Time