The English Department at Southern Miss offers advanced studies in children’s literature at the master’s and doctoral levels, where we have brought together faculty with teaching and research interests in children’s literature, graduate-level course offerings in the field, and the extensive holdings of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection. Students can also participate in the department’s children’s literature reading group and interact with major authors and illustrators who visit campus each year for the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival.  Together, these resources provide a unique opportunity for the graduate study of children’s and young adult literature at Southern Miss. 




Eric L. Tribunella, Associate Professor and Senior Associate Dean, has taught a variety of children’s literature courses on such topics as the Golden Age, trauma in children’s literature, the young adult novel, children’s literature before 1865, and nineteenth-century boy books & girl books.  He is the author of Melancholia and Maturation: The Use of Trauma in American Children’s Literature (2010) and the co-author with Carrie Hintz of Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction (2013).  He received the 2014 Children’s Literature Association (ChLA) Article Award for “Between Boys: Edward Stevenson’s Left to Themselves and the Birth of Gay Children’s Literature,” and he currently serves on the Executive Board of the ChLA. 
Jameela Lares, Professor, has taught children's and young adult literature for many years in both the US and the UK. She has also served on the International and the Book Award committees for the Children's Literature Association. She is preparing publications on linguistic anxiety in Winnie-the-Pooh and social responsibility in British fantasy. Her other research and teaching interests include John Milton and the seventeenth century, literary study of the Bible, and the history of rhetoric.

Kate Cochran, Associate Professor, is an Associate Professor in southern literature and Director of the English Licensure Program.  She teaches courses in English pedagogy, adolescent literature, American literature, and southern studies.  She has published articles in the New Hibernia Review, the Southern Literary Journal, and the College English Association Forum, and her current research in young adult literature focuses on the Twilight Saga.
Alexandra ValintAssociate Professor, specializes in Victorian literature, narrative theory, and children’s and young adult literature. She has taught courses on the body in young adult literature, the adolescent as hero and/or victim, and gothic children’s and young adult literature. She also regularly teaches children’s literature in her Victorian literature classes. She has published on Catherine Sinclair's Holiday House and Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden--both articles appeared in Children's Literature Association Quarterly. An article on Treasure Island appeared in English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920. Her current book project examines wheelchair and crutch users in Victorian literature, including children's literature. 




Each year, Southern Miss hosts the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, which brings children’s book authors and illustrators to campus each spring to speak to students and festival attendees. Founded in 1968, the festival includes the presentation of the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion, which honors an author or illustrator for distinguished contributions to children’s literature. Past recipients of the Medallion include Jane Yolen, David Wiesner, Judy Blume, Walter Dean Myers, Lois Lowry, Virginia Hamilton, and Christopher Paul Curtis.  English students have opportunities to meet authors and illustrators, attend presentations, and assist with the festival.  Recent speakers have included John Green, David Levithan, M.T. Anderson, Paul Zelinsky, Gene Luen Yang, and many others.





Eric Tribunella and curator Ellen Ruffin discuss the de Grummond Collection's John Green manuscripts with a group of children's literature students.

Students of children’s literature at Southern Miss have the rare opportunity both to work with children’s literature scholars and to access one of the country’s largest children’s literature archives on the same campus.  The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection is one of North America's leading research centers in the field of children's literature. Although the Collection has many strengths, the main focus is on American and British children's literature, historical and contemporary. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, the Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1,300 authors and illustrators, as well as 160,000+ published books dating from 1530 to the present.  It holds countless possibilities for research and dissertation projects.







The British children's literature class visits the real secret garden at Frances Hodgson Burnett's house in Kent, England.


ENG 597: British Children’s Literature (Study Abroad)

Jameela Lares

“Classics of British Children’s Literature”

Here's your chance to experience firsthand the inspiration for some of the world's most famous children's stories. You'll read literary classics, visit the places where they were written, and attend presentations by noted British specialists. You'll visit fantasy sites in Oxford associated with Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Harry Potter, cross Pooh Bridge in Milne's Ashdown Forest, find traces of Long John Silver in Stevenson's Edinburgh, and look for Peter Rabbit in Potter's Lake District. In London, you'll explore the appeal of Dick Whittington to city apprentices, visit Kensington Garden to understand how J. M Barrie could see Peter Pan in the magical park across the street, walk about the maritime world of Greenwich Village, visit the Old Royal Observatory, and experience a child's wonder of having a foot in each hemisphere at the Greenwich Meridian - and more. Along the way, you'll learn how various texts are constructed as literature that reflects historical, cultural, and psychological realities. You'll also enjoy the most stunning classrooms of a lifetime, as your pathway of learning stretches North from London through the Lake District to Edinburgh.

Milne biographer Ann Thwaite takes students in the British children’s literature course on a tour of Ashdown Forest, England.



Students in the British children’s literature course pose with the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, London.




ENG 645: Topics Children's/Young Adult Literature

Eric L. Tribunella 

“Keywords for Children's Literature”

This course will pair landmark works for children and young adults with relevant entries from Nel and Paul's Keywords for Children's Literature. In doing so, the class will navigate between an introduction for non-specialists and a more focused study for students planning to concentrate in children's literature. The course will read significant texts, authors, and genres, as well as discuss issues central to the field. Students will write several short responses modeled on Keywords essays and a traditional seminar paper on a children's text of their choosing. Possible course readings include the following:

  • Introductions 1: Children's Literature, Childhood, Golden Age, Innocence, Classic
  • Introductions 2: Culture, Identity, Ideology, Theory
  • Audience, Crossover: Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857)
  • Nonsense, Education, Fantasy: Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865); Benson, David Blaize and the Blue Door (1918)
  • Girlhood, Tomboy, Domestic, Home: Alcott, Little Women (1868); Coolidge, What Katy Did (1872)
  • Boyhood, Gender: Alger, Ragged Dick (1868)
  • Class, Empire, Postcolonial: Burnett, The Secret Garden (1911)
  • African American, Multicultural, Race: Ovington, Hazel (1913)
  • Realism, Young Adult: Boylston, Sue Barton (1936); Hinton, The Outsiders (1967)
  • Image, Picture Book: Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)





ENG 745: Seminar in Children's and Young Adult Literature

Jameela Lares

"The Bible and Children's Literature"

This course will examine the extent to which certain children’s books encode or reflect Scripture itself and also the extent to which the Bible concerns itself with children, though individual research papers can be on any subject in children’s literature, on any subject in biblical literature, or on some combination of the two. There will be additional readings to choose from for oral reports, but as a class we will look at biblical narratives in the King James Bible (the most enduring literary version) and also look for connections between the Bible and children’s literature in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, both of which heavily informed by Scripture but also have heavily influenced children’s literature. We will look at some shorter pious narratives, Janeway’s immensely popular A Token for Children from the seventeenth century and Stretton’s equally popular Jessica’s First Prayer from the nineteenth. We will of course read the more scripturally-informed titles from The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, that is, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle, as expressions not only of creation, temptation, and redemption, but also of “last things,” which will take us into a consideration of apocalyptic literature and the book of Revelation. Another apocalyptic text we will read is the graphic novel Watchmen, which we can at least categorize as young adult literature and which certainly represents the rich influence of apocalypse on graphic novels. We will probably take a week to compare the many and various children’s Bibles held by our university’s rich de Grummond collection, and we will also be reading Charles Dickens’s The Life of Our Lord, a gospel account written for his own children.  Among the poems will we consider against the background of biblical poetry are those by Isaac Watts and Anna Laetitia Barbauld.  I hope also to include a partial or complete theatrical work, such as Madeline L’Engle’s The Journey with Jonah or even Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.




ENG 645: Topics in Children's and Young Adult Literature

Eric L. Tribunella

"Child-Loving, Child-Hating, and Children's Literature"

James Kincaid calls the broad cultural impulse to glorify youth and to romanticize children “child-loving.”  Following Kincaid, we can understand the enterprise of children’s literature as relying on and reproducing a culture of child-loving, which involves assuming that children are important and special enough to have their own literature, to be written for and to be written about.  Responding to Kincaid, Karen Coats argues that “[i]n focusing on the ways that we love and have loved children…he suppresses the ways we have hated them,” and Freud has taught us to consider how expressions of pleasure or value can mask impulses of aggression or hatred.  This course offers an introduction to children’s literature, especially the period known as the Golden Age, in terms of child-loving and child-hating.  We will examine key debates in the history of childhood about the care of children, theories of child love and hate, literary expressions of the suffering and sacralization of children, and depictions of pedophilic and pedophobic adults in children’s classics.  

In addition to excerpts by James Janeway, John Newbery, Elizabeth Turner, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Heinrich Hoffmann, and Randolph Caldecott, required texts will include the following:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll
  • Elsie Dinsmore, Martha Finley
  • Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus, James Otis
  • Stalky and Co., Rudyard Kipling
  • A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Peter and Wendy, J.M. Barrie
  • Pollyanna, Eleanor Porter