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How does Children's Literature Fare in Higher Education?


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Hi, everyone. I have a background in Victorian fiction, and what I hope to do for my phD is Children's Literature. However, after surveying programs, I found that not many professors listed this as their interested area. Is Children's Literature looked upon as a simpler subject matter? My largest problem now is that I can only find 3 fit programs. 

 

Are there aspiring applicants who are also interested in this field? What's your strategy? 

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Children's Lit Studies/YA Studies/the like are definitely growing. I know that one person in my cohort here at University of Texas at Austin has that as her main focus and I know plenty of other people who have taught classes on video games. I'm not sure if that helps, but maybe it adds one more place you could look into.

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As someone who has a strong interest in YA lit, I always keep my eyes open for any mention of classes or profs who are interested in YA lit or children's lit. I've seen some here and there, and I hope to see more in the future. It definitely does seem like the interest is growing though.

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While I am an avid reader of YA novels, I am not a scholar of children's or YA lit. However, I remember the last MLA convention I attended had a handful of children's lit panels. I just checked on their website, and it seems like there are three to five panels relevant to children's lit each year (although, I did notice that there was quite the boom 2006-2008, so you may investigate why there were fewer panels these past few years). I searched "children's literature" here: http://www.mla.org/conv_listings_res. From there, you can see with what schools presenters are affiliated, and go from there. 

Edited by proflorax
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  • 2 weeks later...

Have you done much looking into The Lion and the Unicorn, the academic journal interested in children's lit? You might take a look and see who is publishing in it and where they have affiliation. http://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/lion_and_the_unicorn/

Edited by Chadillac
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Another key word you might want to start searching is "childhood studies," which is what a lot of people who are interested in children and child culture, but perhaps not specifically the literature of it, are branching into.

 

I was successfully accepted into a PhD program for children's lit/childhood studies this year.  I also finished my MA at a different institution and focused primarily on children's lit.  So, if you have any questions or want to pick my brain about what applying to this small field is like, feel free to PM me :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Children's lit is an up-and-coming area, but you'll want to treat it as a kind of subfield. So, in other words, you would apply and market yourself as a Victorian studies person (or whatever big recognized area) and then say you want to specialize in the children's literature of that era. You would then do exams in 19th century lit, and then write your dissertation in children's lit of the Victorian period.

 

I know a very successful children's lit person, and they are basically situated in the field of early American literature, but they write about the children's literature of early America. They went to a program without a "recognized" focus in children's literature, but they were very successful anyway--so keep in mind that if you go to a good program you will have the tools you need to specialize in virtually any area. You don't need to find scholars who do exactly what you want to do (though it can be helpful). Basically, you want to find a program that is strong in your time period or theoretical approach. Don't get too hung up on the exact interests of faculty.

 

The main lesson I learned while applying is not to overspecialize. You want to associate yourself with a time period and talk about your interests within that time period--but don't put all the idiosyncratic interests upfront. The first time I applied, I told everyone I wanted to study a very particular author, when I should have situated myself within the larger period AND THEN talked about how I wanted to study that author.

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  • 1 month later...

I've done my program research and came up with this list. I chose these because of funding and potential fit professors. 

 

NYU

U Chicago​

Penn State

U North Carolina Chapel Hill

U Conn

Yale

Princeton

UCB

 
Any thought on the list? 
 
Also, U of Pittsburgh and U of Florida are good, but they don't offer guaranteed funding. I feel having to compete for funding would put me under too much stress to enjoy school life, so. . . Right choice? 
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