Dr. Mary Moran will be joining the children’s literature faculty in the Fall of 2012. In order to get to know her a bit before she comes on campus, I asked her a few questions:
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs (south side, but I’m a Cubs fan) and attended the University of Chicago. My Ph.D. is from the University of Iowa (2006) where I focused on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. Since then, I’ve been an assistant professor of adolescent literature at the College of Staten Island, which is part of the City University of New York. My academic interests include literature by and about women; fantasy; and feminist, ethical, and narrative theory. I’ve published and presented on Frances Hodgson Burnett, Anne of Green Gables, Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart trilogy, and Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton mysteries.
The full interview continues…
1) What got you interested in studying children’s literature?
In my second year of grad school, I took a course on Victorian children’s
literature, and got to present the paper from that course at the Modern
Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature Conference. That was a great
experience–it was the first time I got to see the kind of interesting work
being done on children’s literature. I’d always read children’s and
adolescent literature for pleasure, and it was exiting to find out that I
could do scholarly work on it as well–both the books I’d loved as a kid
and the wonderful new work being published.
2) If you had to pick a favorite book or type of book, what would it be?
I always find it hard to pick a favorite book–every reading experience is
so different that it’s difficult to compare them–but I love detective fiction, fantasies such as Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and family stories like Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays or Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks books.
3) What’s the best children’s or young adult book you’ve read in the past five years?
Another tough call…The Hunger Games was the most gripping, but I think
I’d say that the best would be Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.
4) What scholarly projects are you currently working on?
I’m revising my dissertation into a book manuscript; it uses a combination
of feminist and narrative ethics to analyze works by Mary Hays, Jane
Austen, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell. My new project is based on
the Judy Bolton mysteries, a series of almost forty books written between
the 1930s and 1960s by one person (unlike so many other mystery series that
were written under a pseudonym by a variety of authors). My grandmother
gave me some of the titles when I was young, and I’ve been gradually
acquiring the rest of the volumes, many of which have been out of print.
I’ve published two articles on the series, and plan to use those as the
foundation for a book manuscript, which may expand to cover other
lesser-known girls’ mystery series as well.
5) What do you do when you’re not reading?
I’m a bit of a foodie, so I love to cook. In college and grad school, I
played the flute and enjoyed trivia and quiz games, though I haven’t had a
lot of time for those activities recently–in the past few months, I’ve
been busy taking care of my daughter, who was born on Christmas. My
husband and I are looking forward to biking around Normal with her in one
of those baby trailers!