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ENC 1136 Projects 

ENC 1136: Multimodal Writing / Digital Literacy is an undergraduate course offered by the University of Florida Department of English that teaches students to compose and circulate multimodal documents in order to convey creative, well- researched, carefully crafted, and attentively written information through digital platforms and multimodal documents. This course promotes digital writing and research as central to academic, civic, and personal expression.

During Fall 2020, students in Brianna Anderson's ENC 1136 class created a series of podcast episodes and videos that analyze artifacts of children’s media (literature, film, television, video games, toys, etc.). Covering a broad range of topics, including Gothic children's books, the animated series Courage the Cowardly Dog, and The Lorax, the projects seek to answer two important questions: Why are these artifacts meaningful for children and American culture at large, and how do these texts reflect and critique mainstream ideologies?

View the projects below.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

In this video, Akari Nitta examines the economic and social lessons that the Animal Crossing: New Horizons video game teaches to young players.

Diversity in Disney Films

In this in-depth video, Alexander Bramble analyzes racial representations in three recent Disney films: The Princess and the Frog (2009), Aladdin (2019), and Mulan (2020). While children’s media needs more diversity, the video argues that these three films ultimately fall short of their goals of creating positive representations of people of color.

Contemporary Society and “The Hunger Games”

In this video, Ivelina Kioutchoukova highlights the continued relevancy of The Hunger Games novel to contemporary society, particularly during the Trump presidency. She analyzes the novel’s key themes of authoritarianism, media, and wealth inequalities and draws parallels between these concepts and American society.

“Scooby Doo”

In these podcast episodes, Ana Caggiano examines the reasons for the enduring popularity of Scooby Doo, which first premiered as a children’s television show in 1969. She argues that the franchise’s success stems from its “timelessness, universal appeal, intriguing storyline and beloved characters.”

Children’s Learning Styles

How do children learn? In Episode 1, Charles Richardson the most common learning styles for children, how to discover which learning style a child favors, and how to play their learning style to their strengths. Episode 2 discusses the use of technology to leverage learning styles. 

Superhero Bibliotherapy

In these episodes, Collin Rohr discusses superhero bibliotherapy: the use of “superhero books, comics, movies, and other literature to aid in therapy” for children. The episodes examine different settings where superhero bibliotherapy may take place, as well as the impacts that it has on young children coping with parental loss and other issues.

“Sesame Street”

Curtis Flowers discusses how Sesame Street has helped educate children around the world. Episode 1 examines how the show can help kids develop resiliency and cope with traumas like 9/11 and the covid-19 pandemic. Episode 2 discusses Ahlan Simsim, an Arabic co-production of Sesame Street.

Harry Potter: Books vs. Movies

David Smith considers key differences between the Harry Potter books and films. Episode 1 argues that the film medium limits the audience’s imagination, whereas the books enable the reader to envision the world on their own. Episode 2 points out pivotal plot moments that were excluded from the films and considers how these erasures affect the viewer’s experience.

Environmentalism and “The Lorax”

Originally published in 1971, Dr. Seuss’s picture book The Lorax remains a classic work of children’s literature, particularly due to its strong environmental messages. In Episode 1, Haeseung Lee analyzes how The Lorax and its film adaptation of the same name can shape children’s views of climate change. Episode 2 discusses what The Lorax can teach contemporary readers about environmental degradation. 

Classical Music and Children’s Film

Joseph Leites explores how the use of classical music in children’s films can shape the viewer’s experience and even aid in motor neuron development. Episode 1 explores how “The Blue Danube,” a song that appears in many movies for children, contributes to “the psychological process of mirror neuron activation, which can stimulate physical imitation of movement and emotion.” In Episode 2, Joseph discusses Fantasia and musical education in schools. 

Lessons from Harry Potter

Lauren Howell argues that the Harry Potter series presents many life lessons that are vital to the development of the young children who watch it. Episode 1 analyzes how the series teaches children to persevere in the face of difficult challenges. Episode 2 discusses themes of friendships and choices. 

Gothic Children’s Literature

Mercy Johnson argues that “horror has long found a place in children’s stories, and early on, this fear served a didactic function as it was used to encourage childhood mindfulness. Since then, however, the relationship between horror and children’s literature has become more complicated.” Episode 1 begins with the roots of the genre by analyzing elements of the Gothic in Dracula. Episode 2 explores how the Gothic functions in contemporary children’s literature.

“Courage the Cowardly Dog”

In this video slideshow, Reese Allen highlights how “Courage the Cowardly Dog” uses strange, surreal images and narratives to teach children important life lessons.