Please read this first: I am not a public utility. I am an employee of a (nominally) public university, true. But that doesn’t grant everyone unfettered access to my time or expertise. It’s not that I don’t want to help. I do! I actually feel guilty about not replying to every email I get. (That’s one reason I’m writing this FAQ.) And I used to try to respond to everyone. However, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to answer all requests and do my job. Robin Bernstein wrote a great essay on this subject. Though the audience for the piece is her fellow academics, I recommend it.
And now, a few answers to some general questions.
Please skip ahead to the category that best describes you:
- My Students (current or former)
- Other Students & General Queries
- Seeking Me as a Speaker
- Publishing Advice
My Students (current or former)
Check the FAQ on our course syllabus. Most questions are addressed there. But, if not, drop me a line – ideally via Canvas, but email’s a-OK too.
If it’s during the summer (i.e., not during the fall or spring term), then please keep in mind that I am not employed by Kansas State University during the summer. You may not get an immediate reply.
Other Students / General Queries
Some general advice: I won’t do your homework for you. I have work of my own to do. There are many resources you can consult – in libraries and on the web. Start there.
No. I realize that some teachers assign students to contact experts on a subject. But, first, they have no right to volunteer other people’s time. Second, contacting an expert is not the same as doing research. All I have to say on Dr. Seuss is in my published work: chapter 1 of Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature (2017), The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats (2007), Dr. Seuss: American Icon (2004) and in my other essays and blog posts on the subject.
No. See answer to above question. And you might look at my published work, such as:
- J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels: A Reader’s Guide (2001)
- “You Say ‘Jelly,’ I Say ‘Jell-O’?: Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language” (from The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon, ed. Lana Whited, 2002). 261-84.
- “Is There a Text in This Advertising Campaign?: Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter” (The Lion and the Unicorn 29.2, Apr. 2005)
- “Lost in Translation?: Harry Potter, from Page to Screen” (Harry Potter’s World: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, revised edition, ed. Elizabeth Heilman, 2009)
Note: I wrote the above before J.K. Rowling decided to use her considerable power to bully trans people. Her transphobic crusade is at best disappointing, and is at worst a massive moral failure on the level of deciding to enlist in the Death Eaters.
I last taught it in 2013, but my colleagues Karin Westman and Naomi Wood still offer versions of the class. Check the English Department’s courses page.
Sorry, but probably not. Blog posts are by invitation only.
Sure. Email is the best way to reach me. Send me an email, and tell me how I might best get in touch with you. I check email regularly during the day, unless I’m traveling or on a research trip – if I am, then I’ll still check, but less frequently. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Seeking Me as a Speaker
Send me an email, and let me know the date, location, type of event, and proposed compensation. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
I’m glad to talk on:
- How and why to break up with your favorite racist children’s books
- Racism and nostalgia
- Radical children’s literature
- Dr. Seuss
- Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon
- Crockett Johnson, Ruth Krauss
For other possible subjects, please take a look at the Speaking page or peruse upcoming talks and a list of older ones.
I would again direct you to Harold Underdown’s excellent advice. (See above answer.)
Book proposals differ depending on whether they are for commercial publishers or academic publishers. Generally speaking, a proposal for a commercial publisher tends to be more detailed.
For advice on how to write an academic proposal, see “How to Publish Your Book; or, The Little Manuscript That Could.” For more general academic advice, you might peruse blog posts tagged “Academe.”