An innovative new elective for the children's literature program, Englit 1635: Children in Pittsburgh, will be running for the first time in Spring 2017. This course focuses on how contemporary Pittsburgh cultural organizations and Pittsburgh-based authors draw on the rich history of our city as a leader in developing children's media and foster children's participation in various forms of culture. Professor Courtney Weikle-Mills will play "Ms. Frizzle" as we go on field trips to various sites and host guest speakers from our community. Please see the full course description below!
Englit 1635: Children in Pittsburgh
Offered Monday 1:00-4:50 in Spring 2017
Pittsburgh is Kidsburgh” is the slogan of a recent advertising campaign highlighting the range of child-oriented institutions, programs, and activities available to children in Pittsburgh. For a mid-sized city Pittsburgh’s many foundations fund an extensive network of cultural institutions—from museums to parks to theater festivals—almost all of which offer significant programming for children, and many of which are dedicated exclusively to serving children. A major location for children’s media, Pittsburgh is home to public television station WQED, which since the 1960s produced the groundbreaking children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and since 2012 the Fred Rogers Company has emerged again as a leading production company, responsible for three of the most successful children’s television shows airing today (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peg + Cat, and The Odd Squad). Organizations like the Carnegie Museums, the Carnegie Libraries, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, WQED and the Fred Rogers Company, Hope Academy of Music and the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Remaking Learning Network, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Gemini Children’s Theater, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and many others are continually creating spaces and developing programs aimed at fostering children’s knowledge of and participation in various forms of culture: from literature and poetry, to theater, music, and dance, to fine art, to new forms of digital communication and artistic production. This class surveys the range of cultural institutions serving children in Pittsburgh, with two main goals: (1) to see these institutions as a key part of the way childhood is experienced in Pittsburgh and similar cities across the United States, and to understand the historical background, social contexts, and political and cultural implications these institutions have on the experience of being a child today; and (2) to introduce students to a range of careers paths that make use of the historical knowledge and analytical skills cultivated in Pitt’s children’s literature and childhood studies courses. We will visit a wide range of institutions and host several guest speakers to survey the field of children’s culture in contemporary Pittsburgh. Students will conduct independent research into the history and composition of an institution of their choosing, and students will profile the career of an active professional in this field.