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Personal profile


I specialise in the practice of remembering and rereading childhood fiction, asking how adults negotiate relationships with books from their pasts. My monograph, Rereading Childhood Books: a Poetics (2019) is published by Bloomsbury and I discuss it on this podcast episode. I have also written on the methodology of 're-memorying' and about ways that men remember The Secret Garden, with the help of a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant. I am currently working on a co-creative project called 'Lifelong Reading: new stories' with older adults at a local day centre.

My other research interest is young adult fiction and adolescence, with a current focus on British YA and the Everyday. I have edited a special issue of The Lion and the Unicorn on Margaret Mahy and a collection of essays on children's and young adult author Melvin Burgess for Palgrave MacMillan's New Casebook series. My first book, Constructions of Adolescence in Fantastic Realism was published with Routledge as part of the Children's Literature and Culture Series, and examined fundamental themes which inform our understanding of 'the teenager' and which can be represented symbolically in fantastic tropes.

I am a member of the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature and was on the advisory board of Roehampton's Memories of Fiction project. I am on the Editorial Boards Children's Literature in Education journal and The European Journal for the Study of English, and the 'Studies in European Literature for Children and Youth Adults' book series.

I was co-organiser of the cross-disciplinary, AHRC-funded Memory Network, which from 2012-214 brought together scholars from the arts and humanities, scientists, writers and artists to think critically and creatively about memory. I spoke at one of its public events in 2014 on Remembering Stories.

My work in English studies more generally has included serving on the Executive Committee of University English and representing it on the Board of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE). I worked with the review group for the Subject Benchmark Statement for English


PhD: 'Representing Adolescence in Young Adult Fantastic Realism' (Nottingham Trent, 2005); PGCert: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Roehampton/HEA, 2009).

Research interests

Young adult fiction; Memory and literature; Reading and rereading. I would welcome enquiries from research students and collaborators with interests in any of these areas.


I teach on both the on-site and distance learning MA programmes in Children's Literature. As well as teaching the core module 'Critical and Theoretical Perspectives' I also offer a special option on young adult fiction for 'Form and Genre 1'. I teach 'Memory and Being' on the undergraduate English curriculum.

I have supervised four PhD projects to completion:

  • Nick Cambell: 'Children's Neo-Romanticism: The Archaeological Imagination in Post-War Children's Fantasy.' (2017: minor corrections)
  • Erica Gillingham: 'Lesbian Love Stories in Young Adult Literature and Graphic Novels: Narrative Constructions of Same-Sex Relationships between Female Characters across Genre and Form.' (2017: no corrections)
  • Anne Malewski: 'Growing Sideways: Shifting Boundaries between CHildhood and Adulthood in Twenty-First Century Britain' (2019: no corrections)
  • Sarah Pyke: 'Queer readers remember: The textual and extratextual afterlives of childhood reading for LGBTQ adults' (2019: minor corrections)
  • Kay Waddilove: 'Good Enough? Representations of Motherhood in Populist Children's Literature from 1911 to 2011' (2019: no corrections)

I also supervise the following students:

  • Emily Corbett: 'Gender-Variant Identities in Twenty-First Century Young Adult Literature'
  • Odhran O'Donoghue: 'The ‘Gay Future Child’: an analysis of homonormativity and assimilation in contemporary American LGBT+ young adult fiction'
  • Aliona Yarova (with Lulea University): 'Narrating Humanity: Children’s Literature & Globa Citizenship'
I won the Student-Led Teaching Award for 'Best Research Supervisor' in 2014. "Alison is incredibly knowledgeable. She has an excellent manner (she is always calm and gentle), while offering firm and perceptive guidance."


Research Output

Rereading childhood Books: A Poetics

Waller, A., 7 Feb 2019, London & New York: Bloomsbury. 232 p. (Bloomsbury Perspectives on Children's Literature)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Margaret Mackey’s One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography (review)

Waller, A., 23 Mar 2017, In : Children's Literature in Education. 48, 2

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Open Access
85 Downloads (Pure)

"Re-memorying: A new phenomenological methodology in children’s literature studies"

Waller, A., 1 Oct 2017, The Edinburgh Companion to Children¹s Literature. Beauvais, C. & Nikolajeva, M. (eds.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 136-149

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

"“Girls Like it Most” Challenging Gendered Canons and Paracanons in the case of The Secret Garden"

Waller, A., 2017, Canon Constitution and Canon Change in Children’s Literature. Kümmerling-Meibauer, B. & Müller, A. (eds.). London: Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, p. 155-172

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Amnesia in Young Adult Fiction

Waller, A., 2016, Memory in the Twenty-first Century: New Critical Perspectives from the Sciences and Arts and Humanities.. Groes, S. (ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 286-291

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Southlands Methodist Trust Small Grant - Lifelong Reading: New Stories (£3000)

Waller, Alison (Recipient), Sep 2019

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Student Led Teaching Award - Best Research Supervisor

Waller, Alison (Recipient), 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Remembering Childhood Books

Alison Waller (Speaker)

12 Feb 2020

Activity: Public engagement and outreachSchools engagement

Digging Down: excavating memories of childhood reading

Alison Waller (Speaker)

20 Jun 2019

Activity: Public engagement and outreachSchools engagement

Novel Perspectives: Towards an inclusive canon

Alison Waller (Consultant)

1 Sep 20191 Sep 2020

Activity: Consultancy

Lifelong Reading Workshop

Alison Waller (Organiser)

29 May 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Alison Waller (Editorial board member)

1 Sep 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial Activity


Children’s Neo-Romanticism: The Archaeological Imagination in British Post-War Children’s Fantasy

Author: Campbell, N., 10 Oct 2017

Supervisor: Priestman, D. (Supervisor) & Waller, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Growing sideways: challenging boundaries between childhood and adulthood in twenty-first century Britain

Author: Malewski, A., 7 Feb 2019

Supervisor: Sainsbury, L. (Supervisor) & Waller, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Growing Sideways: Shifting Boundaries Between Childhood and Adulthood in Twenty-First Century Britain

Author: Malewski, A., Jan 2019

Supervisor: Sainsbury, L. (Supervisor) & Waller, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Tending, mending, caring : constructions of motherhood in popular children's literature from 1945 to 1960

Author: Waddilove, K., 4 Mar 2020

Supervisor: Sainsbury, L. (Supervisor) & Waller, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis