Professor of Children's Literature & Childhood Culture, Queen Mary University of London

My research focuses on children's literature and culture from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day, and seeks to advance the study of children’s literature by bringing it into productive dialogue with a range of other fields including classics, postcolonial studies, fashion and music. Much of my work involves collaboration with high-profile, internationally-renowned individuals and organisations across the creative and cultural industries. My current work uses Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to explore intersections between fashion and fiction for young readers and establishes an innovative approach to the reception of children’s literature (see http://www.aliceinwonderland.qmul.ac.uk). The project traces the emergence of Alice as style icon, exploring the many different ways in which she was dressed in the nineteenth century - how she both follows fashions and sets trends - and also the practice of dressing as Alice. The aim is to reconstruct Victorian visions of Alice, and to extend our understanding of her character (and that of her creator) via analysis of dress and physical appearance. The project will extend reception studies into the realm of (fancy) dress and establish a methodology equally applicable to other iconic figures. It not only re-examines canonical works through a new critical lens which sheds light on their international transmission and circulation, but also uncovers neglected source materials. In addition to publications, the research has generated outputs including a fabric collection with Liberty, an exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood, and concert suite with the London Symphony Orchestra. The research has reached an international, multigenerational audience through the exhibition and concert, feature articles, a number of pubic events and talks, and inclusion in over 100 media and online outlets nationally and internationally (including BBC Breakfast, BBC London, BBC Radio 4, The Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, the Times of India, El Universel (Mexico)). I have supervised 3 doctoral projects to completion and, in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Geography, am currently supervising Lucie Glasheen (‘Playing with new space in 1930s East London’), and Eithne Nightingale ('Children, Migration & Diaspora', part of the AHRC-funded project, 'The Child in the World' with the V&A Museum of Childhood). In September 2016, I will begin supervision of a further doctoral project 'Adventures in the City: The Politics and Practice of Children’s Adventure Play in Urban Britain, c.1955-97’ (a collaborative studentship with the V&A Museum of Childhood funded by London Social Science ESRC Doctorial Training Centre.)

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in French and Comparative Literature, Queen Mary University of London