Department of English and Creative Writing

Visiting address
115 Fincham, Digby Stuart

Biography

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.

My other research interest is young adult fiction and adolescence, with a curent focus on memory in children's and YA literature. 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.

I am external adviser to the Readerships and Literary Cultures project housed at Sheffield Hallam University, sit on the advisory board of Roehampton's Memories of Fiction project, and am a member of the Youth Studies Network run by the University of Leicester. I am on the Editorial Boards of Children's Literature in Education 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 includes 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

Qualifications

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.

Teaching

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 'Childhood and Culture' and 'Children's Literature in Context' on the undergraduate English curriculum.

I have supervised two 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)

I also supervise the following students:

  • Anne Malewski: 'Growing Sideways: Shifting Boundaries between Childhood and Adulthood in Twenty-First Century Britain'
  • Sarah Pyke: 'Queer readers remember: The textual and extratextual afterlives of childhood reading for LGBTQ adults'
  • Kay Waddilove: 'Good Enough? Representations of Motherhood in Populist Children's Literature from 1911 to 2011'
  • Aliona Yarova (with Lulea University): 'The Multiplicity of Reading Magic Realism for Children'
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."

Links

Research outputs

  1. Rereading childhood Books: a Poetics

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

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

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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