Literature for Adolescents (Fall 2018): sneak preview

This fall, I am teaching English 545: Literature for Adolescents on-line for the first time.  That is, this is the first time I’m teaching the course on-line.  It’s the umpteenth time I’ve taught the course, and the second time I’ve taught on-line. One thing I learned from teaching on-line this past spring: Build the entire course before…

Sherman Alexie & #MeToo

As many teachers do, I teach Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  When confirmed reports of his sexual harassment and other abuses of power became public, I knew I had to talk to my class about it — I had already taught Absolutely True Diary in my on-line Multicultural Children’s Literature class earlier in…

Innocent Children and Frightened Adults: Why Censorship Fails (at From The Square: The NYU Press Blog)

In recognition of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, I’ve written a short piece for From the Square: The NYU Press Blog.  It’s called “Innocent Children and Frightened Adults: Why Censorship Fails.”  Here’s a brief excerpt: While censorship will not keep young people safe, censors and would-be censors are right about two things. First, books…

Ferguson: Response & Resources

This post has two parts: my response and some resources for teaching about Ferguson. Feel free to skip ahead to the resources section. My Response For two weeks now, I have been wanting to write something about the state-sponsored terrorism in Ferguson — and all that it represents (structural racism, police brutality, militarized cops, etc.). But it makes…

Calls for Papers (Children’s Literature): MLA 2015, Vancouver, BC

Scholars of Children’s Literature, Young Adult Literature, Children’s Culture!  Attention! Here are some calls for papers, for the 2015 Modern Language Association, held from January 8 to 11, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. All are sponsored or co-sponsored by the MLA’s Children’s Literature Division. Send in a proposal to one of the organizers!  Come to…

I Love the ’80s: Dystopia, Nostalgia, and Ready Player One

Kansas State University’s “K-State First” asked me to talk to undergraduates about Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One (2011), this year’s “First Book,” at a “Beyond the Classroom” event.  So, this past Tuesday (Oct. 1st), I did.  In case it may be of interest to others, I’m posting my (admittedly somewhat hastily assembled) talk here, along with…

Fighting Rape Culture: Steubenville, Activism, and Children’s Books

Laurie Penny calls Steubenville’s “rape culture’s Abu Ghraib moment.” As she says, “The pictures from Steubenville don’t just show a girl being raped. They show that rape being condoned, encouraged, celebrated.”  In calling it the “Abu Ghraib moment” for rape culture, Penny says, “It’s the moment when America and the world are being forced, despite…

Ignorance Is Not a Virtue

The critic who touts his ignorance as a virtue should not have a job as a critic.  Any “news” publication that employs such a person in this capacity is shirking its responsibility to provide well-informed discourse. So, then.  Why would Time magazine or the New York Times employ Joel Stein? In his “Adults Should Read…

Why Meghan Can’t Read

In an op-ed piece that the Wall Street Journal published as an article, Meghan Cox Gurdon criticizes contemporary young adult fiction for its darkness. As she writes, “it is … possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people…