In Person Course | Down the Rabbit Hole: Reading Children’s Literature with Melissa Jensen

Date / Time

  • January 5, 2022
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • February 2, 2022
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • March 2, 2022
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • April 6, 2022
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • May 4, 2022
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • June 1, 2022
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States


  • Tuition for this course is $300, $270 Delancey Society and Members.
  • Rosenbach members receive a 10% discount on tuition.
  • Not a member? We invite you to join upon registration. Click here for more information about membership.
  • If you have questions about registration, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • This course is limited to participants who are 17 years of age or older.
  • This is an in-person event at The Rosenbach. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation.
  • This event requires proof of vaccination.
  • Two complimentary tickets to visit The Rosenbach are included with your paid registration for this virtual course. You will receive the discount code in your email confirmation and tickets can be booked here. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation.
  • If you have questions about registration, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on November 15, for members on November 22, and for the general public on November 29.



Course Description

This is not your great-gran’s Bildungsroman. There will be no orphans here. No. Wait. There will absolutely be orphans here, including one from Kansas who bests a wizard, and another from a cupboard under the stairs who is a wizard. In this course, we will study the evolution and convolution of Children’s Literature from the 19th to 21st centuries: stories written not just about children but, more importantly for them, asking many of the same questions we ask when looking at children themselves. What are they saying to us (Text)? What are they really saying to us (Subtext)? How are they taking on that critical challenge: finding their place in the world (Context)? We will read, discuss, analyze, even perhaps psychoanalyze the beloved, the famous, and the just plain odd, in order to best understand why these wondrous books are not just fabric of our youthbut also of critical cultural and literary importance.

Over our six sessions, we will read five novels, a selection of classic fairy tales (pdfs will be provided), and some essays (links and/or pdfs will be provided) for contextual and critical perspective. We will begin each session with a short, focused lecture by me on a topic related or of connected interest to the text(s); the bulk of our time will be spent in group discussion of the reading. There will be lots of reading, lively pondering, and livelier conversation.

Previous knowledge of any or all of our texts is not necessary. It’s enough that you’re coming to them now.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Reading Children’s Literature with Melissa Jensen Syllabus


About the Instructor

Melissa Jensen is a Lecturer in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she specializes in Children’s and Adolescent Literature. For The Rosenbach, she has led courses on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships may be available for this course. For more information, please contact Emilie Parker at [email protected].

About Rosenbach Courses

Revisit beloved classics or experience new ones with Rosenbach courses. Book lovers delve into fiction, history, and poetry with the guidance of a literary expert and the company of other readers. See all upcoming courses.

By registering for this program, you will be added to The Rosenbach’s email database to receive future communication about programs and events. If you’d prefer not to receive these messages please email [email protected]g with unsubscribe in the subject line. 

Proof of Vaccination

Beginning on September 1, visitors and program attendees must show proof of vaccination along with all ​staff members and volunteers. With limited space for social distancing in our historic house and library, requiring proof of vaccination is the best way to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff.

  • Visitors and program attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination along with their photo ID at the front desk. We will accept your original CDC issued card or a photo.
  • With the vaccine requirement in place, masks are not required but are encouraged and will be available for use.
  • Visitors who are unable to show proof of vaccination will not be able to visit The Rosenbach at this time, including unvaccinated children under the age of 12.