Posted here will be interviews with members of our community as well as special guests.
But listen, mate, that type of vernacular just isn’t my mode of piracy, unless I’m in the guise of Sailing Mistress Maggie Py (but she has a biography of her own). I may study pirates in children’s literature now, but I’m a Midwesterner by birth, so there’s no escaping the sound of my Ohio roots. After high school, I left the land-locked “heart of it all” for Florida’s gulf shore. I enrolled at Eckerd College and left it with a BA in English, Human Development, and Classical Humanities. After serving a short time as a research assistant at Florida Atlantic University, I spent a year earning a Master’s in Literary and Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University. Time passed in a Midwest tundra, and I indulged too many frigid winters as a career counselor and computer instructor in Milwaukee, WI. Happily, I dove in as a curriculum developer for Grand Canyon University’s College of Education in Phoenix, AZ. Then, figuring I wasn’t done learning, I returned to school at ISU because I apparently needed more snowy punishment.
This pirate does service for the crew, too. My duty has allowed me to volunteer as computer instructor for non-profit organizations, to partner in reading with children at Normal Public library, to serve as municipal liaison for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writer’s Month) in two different states, and to rehabilitate wildlife for a no-kill humane society. I’m not done finding other volunteer opportunities so I can tackle new skills.
Here’s the important part: biographies are all about the past, but if anything, my past has taught me that laurels bring no rest. My future biography will consist of this: graduating with a PhD to be Dr. Pirate in the Spring of 2013. The rest can be either as the wind directs me or as I row: taking to the seas, I’ve got to travel to new ports of call; through the storms, I’ll do what it takes to survive; when the final battle comes, I will leave this world with no regrets.
I’m from a suburb of Washington, D.C. When studying for my B.S. in elementary education at University of Maryland, I took a standard kiddie lit course and fell in love with its theory and analysis. I went on to earn a B.A. in English Literature at UM, but ultimately decided to make children’s literature a bigger part of my interdisciplinary research agenda. After completing my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction – Children’s Literature at Pennsylvania State University, I began ISU’s English Studies doctoral program to pursue a children’s literature concentration.
Global citizenship pedagogy constructs my teaching approach, so my favorite type of children’s literature is a cross-cultural book about encounters between people from different countries. In the children’s literature courses that I’ve taught here at ISU, I use this type of cross-cultural book to stimulate reflection and discussion about cultural perspectives and beliefs. That said, Rules by Cynthia Lord has been a favorite for many of my students, and for me, too! It’s a story about a big sister who struggles with the issue of difference in her own family as she learns to better understand and value her autistic brother.
Currently, my primary focus is on finalizing my dissertation, The Efficacy of the Turkish Nasreddin Hodja Tales in a Global Citizenship Pedagogy. I’m also preparing two articles for submission to scholarly journals.
When I’m not working on research or teaching, I love traveling and visiting friends around the world. The last two out of three summers have taken me to Turkey, thanks to my involvement in two exciting State Department programs that I encourage other students to apply for: the Fulbright and Critical Language Scholarship programs (interested applicants, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Closer to home, the performances at Chicago’s Lyric Opera have been fantastic. On a day-to-day basis, I burn off extra energy by running and practicing yoga.
I am from Portsmouth, Virginia. I completed my undergraduate work in English and Secondary Education at Longwood University in sunny Farmville, Virginia, and then I earned my Master’s in English Literature at the University of New Hampshire. I now live with my partner and our lovely cat in Normal.
In Virginia, I spent several years working in a toy store, and I never quite outgrew kid-sized clothes, so I always had a finger on the pulse of trends in kinderculture. As an undergrad, I took several classes with Dr. Chris McGee, a graduate of ISU’s Children’s Literature program. It was so validating to know that what I had always been interested in was a legitimate field. When I went to New Hampshire, I found the focus on canonical texts profoundly stale, and I was eager to get back to the vibrant, living world of Children’s Literature. Now, three years into my doctorate, I am exciting about the work I’m doing and the books I get to read and teach every day.
My favorite books are experimental, progressive Young Adult fiction. I enjoy texts that challenge conservative ways of viewing and being in the world. The best book I’ve read in a long time is a tie between Guus Kuijer’s The Book of Everything and Janne Teller’s Nothing, which I love even though Roberta says it’s nothing more than Lord of the Flies revisited. She’s right, of course, but it’s so well-written that I just don’t mind.
Currently, I’m working on my dissertation, which will focus on agency and self-destructive behavior patterns in Young Adult texts. Also, over the summer I’m hoping to revise an article for publication on eating disorders and cultural Judaism.
When I’m not reading or grading papers, I also work as a GA coordinator of writing assistance at the Visor Center on campus, which I love. Outside of school, I enjoy petting dogs, going to zoos and museums, finding strange roadside attractions, and looking for rabbits around campus. I also have fun hiking and camping, and I’m excited to have just purchased a new tent for summer adventures.
Born as the third child of my parents, I grew up in a remote village of Nepal. I had my school education in Nepali medium with a single course in English as a foreign language in each grade. Since there was no college in our area, I had to go to Kathmandu, the capital city, for higher education. After walking for about ten hours, I had my first bus ride that took seven more hours to arrive at Kathmandu. There, I got a teaching job in a primary school even before I joined Tribhuvan University, the only venue for higher education in the country in those days. Supporting myself with teaching Mathematics, I managed to get my Bachelor’s degree as an English major. As soon as I got my Master’s degree in English from the same university I got a teaching position as a lecturer in English in one of its campuses in the city. Along with that job, I joined Pokhara University and received an MPhil degree. Finally, I moved to the United States and received my PhD in English Studies with a concentration on Children’s and Young Adult Literature. After graduation, I will go to China and teach Contemporary Literatures and Cultures at United International College, which is a joint program of Hong Kong Baptist University and Beijing Normal University. I am excited to be part of its faculty of which 60 percent are from outside China.
Mpale Silkiluwasha came to ISU from Tanzania. Her dissertation research on Globalization and African Children’s Literature examines the impact of market forces as well as ideological ones on disaporic authors of children’s literature. She bolstered her theoretical argument by sharing the books of Mollel Tololwa, a Tanzanian author living in Canada, with children and teachers in Tanzania, to get their impressions. Now that she has graduated, Mpale will be returning to Tanzania as the only children’s literature specialist in her university.