Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle
Kenilworth Castle, John of Gaunt's Hall

Monday, May 03, 2010

notes on a syllabus: ADOLESCENCE

for kicks, I plan syllabi. In fact, making up courses and syllabi (all in my head, never committed to paper) is how I discovered/decided that I was interested in teaching in the first place. I got all geeked out and excited about planning how I would teach certain books, what kinds of assignments I'd create, and I realized that - though all my life I'd resisted the idea of teaching [in large part, I think, because both of my parents were teachers, and I saw firsthand the nonsense they had to put up with] - I was actually really excited by and attracted to the possibilities of teaching.

Now that I have taught for five years - a total of thirteen classes, I think, all but two of them entirely of my own design - I get to make real syllabi. At present, my future teaching opportunities while still in grad school are uncertain, so I'm kind of back to making up imaginary classes and syllabi. Which is fun.

I've been thinking seriously about an adolescence/YA syllabus - there's a course at Pitt called Representing Adolescence that I'd love to teach. So I'm jotting down some ideas here, in the event that this - or some other - YA class comes my way. Because it's "representing" adolescence, I'm thinking film, television, etc in addition to YA books.

Representing Adolescence:

My So-Called Life (selected episodes, at least 2)
King Dork by Frank Portman
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (?)

something from the Judy Blume oeuvre
I haven't read/seen any, but Gossip Girls, I think
Slam by Nick Hornsby (?)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, maybe

what movies would work? I keep thinking of Labyrinth, because I really do think that's quite a good female-adolescence - coming-of-age story. The movie Thirteen is hugely obnoxious and problematic, and therefore pretty interesting to talk about, though painful to watch. It would be awesome to include some MTV - shows like Beavis & Butthead, or my personal favorite Daria; there are also the "Doug" sketches on the old MTV show "The State" - Doug is the rebellious teenager who has nothing to rebel against.
Catcher in the Rye seems like an obvious choice.
I really, really, really want to include at least one queer title - maybe Will Grayson, Will Grayson
I could just do representing adolescence in my childhood and throw in Heathers, or Pump up the Volume.

I wonder, too, how fantasy would or could fit in to a course on representing adolescence. I keep thinking - horrifically enough - of Disney's A Little Mermaid, which is a movie I hate, but which really insists on the teenageriness of Ariel.

I'd need to include some secondary/critical sources. G. Stanley Hall's Adolescence, of course, excerpted, but what else?? I'd LOVE to have a collection of newspaper or periodical editorials and such about Kids These Days that would cross a broad historical period.

what else?