I am lucky to be able to teach my research interests at all university levels. At Roehampton University, I run modules on children’s and young adult literature as well as on memory and literature for the BA English Literature. In addition, I teach theory, research methods, and aspects of form and genre for the MA Children’s Literature by distance learning.
British Young Adult Fiction – Third Year Undergraduate
This specialist module draws on my current research project about contemporary British YA. I wanted to introduce students to standalone works that have shaped the field but may be less well known than their American counterparts or the blockbuster series of the 21st century: works such as Alan Garner's The Owl Service and Melvin Burgess's Junk, Manjeet Mann's Run, Rebel and Lisa Williamson's The Art of Being Normal. Keeping socio-cultural context in mind, we explore together what it means to be young and British in a changing world.
Memory & Being – Third Year Undergraduate
I devised this module when I was working memory experts from all disciplines as part of The Memory Network. I wanted to help students understand some of the complex connections between remembering and the self as they are explored in different types of literature. We read a range of memoirs, YA fiction, and adult novels from across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and set these alongside critical theory, philosophy, and memory science, from the writings of John Locke and Sigmund Freud, to the psychology experiences of Frederick Bartlett and Elizabeth Loftus. Literary texts on this module have included Marcel Proust’s The Way by Swann’s, Roald Dahl’s Boy, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. I am really excited to see how the discussion of ideas in literature can help illuminate lived experience, so for one of the module assignments I ask students to write a creative piece, either a dialogue between their current self and a childhood or teenage self, or an account of an object, place, or phenomenon from childhood as they remember it as an adult. The module was also a chance for students to learn about current research in the department that centre on memory and reading, including, the ‘Memories of Fiction’ project and my own book, Rereading Childhood Books: A Poetics.
Travels in Children’s Literature – MA in Children's Literature
This was one of my favourite modules to teach. It examined the importance of travel and journeys in classic and contemporary children’s literature, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit to Geraldine McCaughrean’s young adult work The White Darkness; from juvenile versions of Johnathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels to Sarah Garland’s picturebook Azzi in Between. We spent time tracing the history of atlases and geographies for young readers, and engaged with postcolonial theory and postmodern theories of space. The theme allowed students to consider the role of literary children as explorers and adventurers, but also as refugees, migrants and tourists. As an added bonus, I took the class on a field trip to Central London where we re-imagined the city from a child’s-eye perspective: students then created their own picturebooks demonstrating some of the ideas they had developed during the module.