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Teen Talk:

Culture and Adolescence

SOA 426 / LIS 460 On-Line
Spring 2015
University of Illinois at Springfield

Dr. Jennifer J. Manthei

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Chair, Sociology and Anthropology

Course Description
What is adolescence? What are teenagers like? Is adolescence a universal phenomenon? Why do
people use teens in literature? How are teens portrayed in movies? How do issues of social identity
—such as economic status, gender, race, and ethnicity—affect the experience or portrayal of
adolescence? What can we learn about ourselves and others through images of adolescence?

In this interdisciplinary course, we will use an anthropological perspective to explore the portrayal
of adolescence in literature and film. In other words, we will use social science tools to analyze
works usually associated with the humanities. Anthropological tools include holism, cultural
relativity, social identity and inequality analyses, social and cultural critiques, and political
ecology. Since anthropological analyses emphasize context, history, politics, and economics also
come into play. We will consider adolescence as a cultural construction, and artistic expressions as
cultural texts. The class will also address adolescence as a literary device. The underlying question
is: Who says what about adolescents, and why? Throughout the course, we will ask:
 What do we know about the writer/filmmaker?
 What do we know about the sociocultural context of the work?
 Who is the intended audience?
 What are the themes of the work?
 What are our emotional and intellectual reactions to the work?
 What are the messages about adolescents?
 What is the message about the culture or society?
 What is the overarching purpose or function of the work?
 Why are adolescents used in the work—how do they help the author achieve her/his
Course Prerequisites and Requirements

Communication. This course involves a high load of reading and writing. Thus, prospective
students must demonstrate a high level of literacy and communication skills. LIS students must
have completed LIS 301 to register for this course. Other students must have satisfied their
General Education composition course requirement.

All communication in this course will observe formal written norms. That is, students are
expected at all times to write in complete sentences using proper spelling, punctuation,
capitalization, and other points of grammar. Students will also communicate in a thoughtful,
curious, and respectful manner as outlined in the document “Participation” (posted on
Blackboard). Emails should include a salutation and closure (for example: “Hi Dr. Manthei, …..
Best wishes, ____”).

Reading. This course focuses on reading novels. You will often need to read and discuss a novel in
a single week (only one will take two weeks); at times, you will simultaneously be reading and
writing for your individual essays. In other words, this course requires strong reading skills and
substantial time.

Time. For any course, students are expected to prepare roughly two hours for each class hour; it
varies somewhat from student to student. Thus for this four-credit on-line course, students are
expected to spend roughly 8 hours on preparation as well as 3.5 hours for the equivalent of actual
class time, for a total of 11.5 hours per week. Of course, this is an average; some weeks will
require more or less time as students work on term papers, for example.

Required Materials and Resources

(1) You must have regular and reliable internet and email access. You are responsible for all
information communicated through email or on the Blackboard website.

(2) Particularly at the beginning of the course, there will be readings posted on Blackboard.
Whether you read them on-line or print them is up to you.

(3) You must have access to the following films. Check for availability to stream, borrow, or
order via mail well in advance.
 “Stand By Me” (1986, Rob Reiner)
 “Whale Rider” (2002, Niki Caro)
 “Rebel Without A Cause” (1955, Nicholas Ray)
 Choose: “Kids” (1990, Larry Clark) or the original “Carrie” (1976, Brian De Palma)
 “Disturbing Behavior” (1998, David Nutter)
(4) In this course we will read popular books that are widely available at libraries, used bookstores,
and used or new online. It does not matter which edition you use.
 Coming of Age in America edited by Mary Frosch –THE FIRST BOOK you will need
(short stories assigned Weeks 2 & 4). Note: avoid a different book by the same title.
"Marigolds," "Eyes and Teeth," "Bag of Oranges," "The Jacket," "The Body Politic," and
"What Means Switch."
 Excerpt: Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen
 Excerpt: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
 Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen
 A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
 The Outsiders by SE Hinton
 House of Stairs by William Sleator (OR, if you can’t find it, you may substitute I Am The
Cheese by Robert Cormier)

Course Assignments and Values

33 Responses to prompts as participation. Students will respond to prompts on the discussion

board on non-exam weeks. Responses will be graded for thoughtfulness, integration of
materials (course concepts and quotes from the work), and promptness. Most weeks are
worth 3 points (and students are allowed to miss one of these weeks), but the final two are
longer and worth more.

45 Three exams, each worth 15 points, graded on thoughtfulness, integration of course

materials, evidence presented (examples and citations), promptness, and expression.

22 Term Paper. The term paper will be an independent analysis, using course concepts, of a
novel written primarily for adolescent readers and with a main character aged 12-18 (at
least for the vast majority of the work). The term paper is written in stages. Students must
have the instructor’s approval of the work you choose, via a book proposal (2 points),
followed by author information (2 points). Papers will be posted in an online symposium,
and each student will provide a peer review for two of their colleagues’ term papers (4
points). Peer reviews will be graded on thoroughness and usefulness of comments,
indicating suggestions for course materials, analysis, structure, and expression. The final
product is worth 14 points, and will be graded based on content (integration of ideas and
materials, development of points, level of analysis, supporting evidence) and form
(structure, flow, and expression). 4 pages of text, Times New Roman 12 pt, 1.5 spacing.
Students may use no outside information except basic information on the author,
which must be cited. Further instructions are posted under “Assignments.”

100 Total points possible (it will appear as 103 possible points on Blackboard because students
are able to miss one week of posting. Students who post appropriately all weeks will
actually earn extra credit).
48-Hour Rule
Students may have questions regarding the grades they receive. Students may make polite inquiries
regarding their grades at least 48 hours after they receive them (and no longer than 10 days after
receiving them).

> 94 =A
90-93.9 = A- An “A” means excellent work, problems are almost negligible.
87-89.9 = B+
84-86.9 = B A “B” means good work, problems are few and small.
80-83.9 = B-
77-79.9 = C+ A “C” means adequate work; the student is demonstrating a reasonable
74-76.9 = C understanding of most of the material but there are some significant problems.
70-73.9 = C-
67-69.9 = D+ A “D” means very poor work; the student is demonstrating a low level
64-66.9 = D of understanding of course materials and significant problems.
60-63.9 = D-
> 60% = F An “F” indicates absolutely unsatisfactory work.
Incompletes are not granted. In the case of dire circumstances and at the professor's discretion, and
if a student has successfully completed 75% of the course, the professor may change a course
grade if the work is completed within two months.

Scholastic Ethics
College students are expected to develop and express their own ideas through original writing.
Using somebody else’s ideas or words without appropriate citation is a form of theft called
plagiarism. Plagiarism, and other violations of academic integrity, are not tolerated, and must be
reported to the Office of the Provost at UIS. Materials explaining more about plagiarism are
available through the Learning Hub. Students are responsible for understanding and complying
with the UIS Academic Integrity Policy

Accommodating People with Disabilities

If you are a student with a documented temporary or ongoing disability in need of academic
accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 217-206-6666. Disabilities
may include, but are not limited to: Psychological, Health, Learning, Sensory, Mobility, ADHD,
TBI and Asperger’s syndrome. In some cases, accommodations are also available for shorter term
disabling conditions such as severe medical situations. Accommodations are based upon
underlying medical and cognitive conditions and may include, but are not limited to: extended time
for tests and quizzes, distraction free environment for tests and quizzes, a note taker, interpreter
and FM devices.
Students who have made a request for an academic accommodation that has been reviewed
and approved by the ODS will receive an accommodation letter which should be provided by the
student to the instructor as soon as possible, preferably in the first week of class.
For assistance in seeking academic accommodations, please contact the UIS Office of Disability
Services (ODS) in the Human Resources Building, Room 80, phone number 217-206-6666.
~ Class Participation ~

This course is designed to elicit and share ideas about adolescence in literature and film, a
cooperative endeavor that requires a great deal of communication.
This handout explains how you can get the most out of the course, as well as how you can
contribute the most to our work together.

Specificity of Knowledge
Our knowledge and the ways we go about learning have a lot to do with our culture, who we are
within our culture, sources of information, and our own personal experiences. We need to
understand that what we know and how we know it are specific to who we are.

Comparative Perspectives
Once we understand that our knowledge is specific to who we are, we can appreciate that others
may have different perspectives, different information based on culture, identity, sources, and
experience. In other words, other people may know things that you don’t know! And you may have
information that others don’t!

Power and Knowledge

Knowledge is power. We all try to influence others’ opinions through the information we provide.
This is true of your sister or brother, parents, friends, teachers, professors, clergy, businesses, the
media, and politicians—all promote particular information for particular purposes. As a result,
information is generally partial and biased.

In other words, our knowledge as individuals is very limited. We are unlikely to have a very
thorough understanding of anything. What to do?

Intellectual Curiosity
Be open to new information! Do not cling (desperately) to what you already ‘know’!
You will learn the most from (1) trying to hear/read and understand other people’s ideas and
perspectives—particularly ideas that are the least similar to your own, and (2) putting your own
knowledge up to scrutiny—both on your own and by sharing your ideas in class.

You will learn the most in an environment in which you and others feel comfortable sharing ideas.
We feel most comfortable when we know others are trying to understand us, no matter how partial
our information is. We learn the most when we feel free to take risks.

~Show respect and curiosity for all opinions given~

~Phrase comments and questions respectfully~