Prof J. E. Patten; Fall 2002 FO 108; 924-4436 email address: jpatten@    web page:

 Young Adult Literature

"The reader should be carried forward, not merely or chiefly by the mechanical impulse of curiosity, or by a restless desire to arrive at the final solution; but by the pleasurable activity of mind excited by the attractions of the journey itself .." --S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

If you think education is expensive - try ignorance.-- Derek Bok
Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. - Henry Peter Brougham

Objectives: English 112B is an upper division English literature course designed to introduce adult readers to young adult literature, literature often written for and read by those who are between 12 years and 18 years old. Although this course will give general consideration to works traditionally used in the classroom, it will concentrate on novels, poems, films, and short stories that are read by young adults on their own or that can be used to motivate them to read on their own. As we read this material we will formulate our own definition of Young Adult literature. YA lit has mistakenly been thought to be simple-minded, didactic, and inferior to adult literature. As we formulate our understanding of this genre, we will acknowledge that in the last half of the previous century a plethora of fiction has been created especially for teens that deals with the possibilities and problems of contemporary life. While these so-called "problem novels" are important we should also remember that young adults need to gain some objectivity about themselves: they need to laugh at themselves and their situation, and they need to perceive themselves through new eyes. During the semester, we will consider and question recent societal changes and how these changes might push young people to an earlier maturity, or at least a facade of maturity. We might find it helpful to remember that Nicole St. John refers to teenagers as "inexperienced adults," who can find in literature a safe haven to accrue much worldly experience. Even though as adult readers, we feel we have outgrown the world of the young adult, the world of the child, we shall see in this course exactly how through experiencing a Young Adult fictive world, we can confirm our own life experiences, illuminate, gain insight into those experiences, and vicariously expand and extend them. And we can live vicariously the life of the modern teen or potential adult, those who will people our classrooms.

Although many physical class sessions will follow a lecture-discussion format, we will model group activities appropriate for use in an interactive classroom. However, keep in mind that even though this course is designed to fulfill the subject matter requirement for teaching in the middle and/or secondary schools, it is not a methodology course. This course will give you tools for learning, tools for evaluating YA lit, but it will not give you formulas or easy answers.  This semester English 112B will be looking forward to a breakthrough in the style of learning and we will be experimenting with traditional classroom work and with internet activity.  English 112B will incorporate much of its course activity into internet work, using a discussion board, web ct on campus, and allowing for much student/teacher discussion through the written word. 

Required Texts: We will be reading these core books, in addition to short stories and poetry to be found on the web site. Books can easily be purchased on line from, where delivery is usually 2-3 days to your doorstep. Books will be available at the Spartan Bookstore or at Roberts Bookstore.

Additional materials: This course will engage students in lively participation on the internet. As many of you already know, students must demonstrate their working knowledge of the computer and the internet as they prepare to teach. If you do not have online access and email at home please familiarize yourself with facilities available on campus. Most of the material necessary for this course will be found at my Internet home page, There are many links on this site, including a discussion board, all directed toward helping students achieve academic success. Since I update the site rather frequently; each time you visit a page, please remember to reload it for the latest information.

Participation and Discussion Board: (20%) : You are responsible for all material presented and discussed in class, whether you are present or absent, including that which is presented by your classmates, and including any changes in the schedule or in the reading material. You are required to stay for the entire class session to be considered present. I realize that many of you in this class teach or work before coming to school, but that does not give you automatic permission for arriving tardy. Even though you may document your absence with a note from a doctor, and even obtain late credit for missed work, please understand that consistent attendance is the key to earning a high grade in the class since much of the learning takes place during class discussions and activities. Intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, and polite participation in class discussions and activities is important.  Attendance in our physical class does not differ substantially from our internet classroom.  On line entries must be on time and indicate awareness of other s entries as well as key issues being discussed.

This venue may be very new to many students.  We will be understanding and patient regarding an appropriate adjustment period.  Students who do not have access to the internet at home may find access readily available at our library, public libraries, and many internet cafes located around their community. 

Reading Responses and quizzes (30%): Reading responses encourage students to be creative and analytical; they are written either in response to already written study questions or to study questions students have written themselves.  In the beginning of the semester, all students will write RRs in response to previously written questions.  As students become aware and knowledgeable about Bloom s Taxonomy and the fine art of writing questions, they may begin writing answers to their own questions.  RRs will contain a clear thesis with very short quotations as support from the text.  In order to receive full credit, RRs must be written in class by the student or submitted on the web according to the class schedule. 

Quizzes in this class will be rather unconventional: oral quizzes, writing questions, answering self-made questions, acting out a character, developing a crossword puzzle, doing a skit, writing an obituary, writing a news report, and/or doing a vocabulary quiz.

One Close Reading: (15%):  This assignment will satisfy the depth requirement for knowledge of Young Adult literature. There will be ONE required close reading of a short passage from one of the texts we will be reading.  A sign-up sheet will be given during the second week of class.

Midterm Research Paper  (15%):  This paper will satisfy the breadth requirement for knowledge of YA literature.  Students will investigate an aspect of Young adult literature.  The class will discuss the range of topics later in the semester.

Final Examination (20%): The final exam will be comprehensive, covering all lectures, readings, reports, Class and On-line Board discussions. The exam will challenge you to utilize the ideas we have discussed during the semester in practical and provocative ways. It will be open-notes, open-books.

Office Hours: You are all encouraged to visit me during my scheduled office hours, to email me, or to telephone me to just chat if you would like. If you have any questions or experience any difficulties and cannot make my regularly scheduled office hours, please arrange a separate time, or contact me by email. English 112B may present a challenge if you are not accustomed to analytical writing, so be sure to keep in contact with me for help or simply reassurance. If you have any personal concerns about your own performance, please don't hesitate to discuss them with me in private, but not in class. I want to make your experience in this course enlightening, useful, and enjoyable. I welcome discussions and queries from all students. Should you be unable to meet with me during my regular office hours, please note that you may schedule a time which is mutually convenient.

Grades: Any student who meets the requirement for receiving an "incomplete" for the course waives his/her right to an A in the course. The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the SJSU Catalog ( The Grading System).  Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance:  A= excellent; B= above average; C= average; D= below average; F= failure.  Courses graded according to the A, B, C, No Credit system shall follow the same pattern, except that NC shall replace D or F.  In such cases, NC shall also substitute for W (or Withdrawal) because neither grade (NC or W) affects students GPA.

N.B.: According to University Policy, the minimum penalty for plagiarism is an "F" on the assignment; maximum penalties may be failure of the course and/or disciplinary action by the University. All students are responsible for knowing and observing University policies regarding academic dishonesty.  See University publication: 'Academic Dishonesty and its Consequences.  All work must be your own.  Plagiarism includes having another person help with written material and includes borrowing from previous students work.



Course Schedule

The Schedule is subject to change, announced at least one class meeting in advance.

 January 27

Introduction. "Flowers" short story; Nabokov's "Beginning of Consciousness"
Review of children's literature and consideration of YA issues. What to look for as we read?

February 3

Assignment: Catcher in the Rye. Bloom's Taxonomy.

February 10

Discussion Board. "Understanding Children.   Seedfolks. 

February 17

Make Lemonade

February 24

Sachar, L. Holes.

March 3

Discussion Board. Under the Feet of Jesus.

March 10


March 17

Hesse, K. Out of the Dust. ($3.99) pk Historical information of the Depression and Dust Bowl.

March 24

Spring Break

March 31


April 7

Briar Rose and related Holocaust literature.

April 14

Short StoriesDiscussion Board questions.

April 21

Monster    Research Project DUE....Hard copy as well as an electronic version on a floppy disk.

April 28

Lovely Bones 

May 5

Review of all books and review of research projects.

 May 12

 Last Class.