Department of English and Creative Writing

Visiting address
115 Fincham, Digby Stuart


I work primarily on young adult fiction and adolescence, with an interest in memory in children's and YA literature. I have recently 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 also researching the practice of remembering and rereading childhood fiction, asking how adults negotiate relationships with books from their pasts. Most recently I have been investigating how men remember The Secret Garden, with the help of a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant. I am 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.

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.

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 recently worked with the review group for the Subject Benchmark Statement for English


PhD (Nottingham Trent)

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 'Travels in Children's Literature' as a special option. I teach 'Memory and Being' on the undergraduate English curriculum.

I also supervise a number of PhD projects:

  • Nick Cambell: 'Children's Neo-Romanticism: The Archaeological Imagination in Post-War Children's Literature'
    Erica Gillingham: 'Lesbian Love Stories in Young Adult Literature and Graphic Novels: the construction of characters, narratives, and ideologies for the 21st Century'
  • 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."


Research outputs

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

  2. Remembering, Rereading and Reviewing the Canon: The Case of The Secret Garden

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  3. Amnesia in Young Adult Fiction

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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