INF2141H Children's Cultural Texts and Artifacts
This course will provide students with a forum for engaging in historically grounded explorations of the centrality of cultural texts and artifacts within contemporary childhood.
From toys to fairy tales, books to videogames, this course adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to examine how texts and artifacts not only play a crucial role within children’s culture, but furthermore reflect and reproduce dominant (and oftentimes conflicting) ideologies, traditions, controversies and social values.
Students will examine the complex interplay between children’s texts and artifacts, particularly as it relates to the concurrent rise of transmedia intertextuality and commercialization within children’s culture. They will learn about the key issues, institutions and “cultural gatekeepers” (including librarians) involved in the production, circulation and management of adult-produced texts and artifacts for children, and the ways in which children in turn engage with these texts and artifacts as part of a deeply meaningful shared cultural experience. A variety of examples and case studies will be examined, through in-class analysis and discussion of foundational children’s books, films, television series, toys, video games and digital applications. Recurring motifs, narrative themes and genres will be addressed. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding the continuities and discontinuities that exist between new and traditional cultural forms.
Students will also be invited to consider the unique set of opportunities and challenges associated with digital technologies, and how they are currently (re)shaping children’s culture in potentially significant ways.