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Department of English

Master of Arts in English Program in Children's Literature

What is the Program in Children's Literature?

The Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter, Jo March, Alice, Dorothy, Lions, Witches, Wild Things, and Tesseracts. These are some of the characters and concepts you can meet in the Program in Children's Literature at Kansas State University.

M.A. students in Children's Literature will study children's and young adult literature. A student might emphasize a particular period or region, such as nineteenth-century American literature, or a particular genre, such as picture books. Each student will work with faculty who have expertise in the area or in a field that compliments the student's focus.

Kansas State University has nationally known scholars of children's and young adult literature. We have six full-time faculty who teach children's and adolescent literature, and three of these faculty are specialists in the field.

Students may pursue a combination of courses in both the Creative Writing and Children’s Literature tracks, with a home track in either and a final project of either creative work or children’s literature scholarship.

Who should apply?

People who want to pursue children's literature at the graduate level, elementary and secondary teachers seeking professional development, and anyone who realizes -- as we do -- that it is fun to take Children's Literature seriously.

People who want to enroll full-time or part-time are welcome: professional educators, librarians, language arts instructors, and non-degree students.

How do I apply?

Prospective students may apply on-line or download the application forms from the Graduate School. If you are more comfortable with a paper application, you may request all the necessary application materials and program information from:

Director of Graduate Studies
Department of English
108 E/CS Bldg.
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-6501

Office Telephone: (785) 532-6716
FAX: (785) 532-2192
Email: gradeng@ksu.edu
Website: http://www.k-state.edu/english/programs/graduatestudies/index.html

Online Application: http://www.ksu.edu/english/programs/graduatestudies
Request Application Forms by Email: gradeng@ksu.edu

What financial support is available?

Most students in the Program in Children's Literature are eligible to receive financial assistance in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantships. For more information about financial aid, go to the Graduate Studies page.

Who are the faculty and what do they work on?

Greg Eiselein teaches courses in American literature and cultural studies, and he serves as the Director of Graduate Studies.  With Anne Phillips, he has co-edited The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2001) and the Norton Critical Edition of Alcott’s Little Women. The life and writings of Louisa May Alcott and the impact of pragmatism and evolution on nineteenth-century American culture are his current areas of research. More information.

Carol Franko specializes in utopian and science fiction.  Her current research includes an investigation into how science fiction naturalizes the supernatural, or otherwise "rewrites" supernatural worldviews, especially those associated with the Judeo-Christian tradition. More information.

Anuja Madan teaches courses in postcolonial literature and cultural studies. She specializes in Indian children’s literature, media and childhoods, as well as Indian comics. She co-authored Notes of Running Feet: English in Primary Textbooks (Eklavya, 2013) along with Rimli Bhattacharya, Sreyoshi Sarkar, and Nivedita Basu. The book grew out of a commissioned group study of English-language textbooks issued to Indian primary school children. She has published articles on English-language picturebook adaptations of the epic Mahabharata and redactions of classics in Indian English textbooks. She has served as Reviews Editor for ImageText: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. More information.

Philip Nel teaches courses in children’s literature and comics, and serves as the Director of the Program in Children’s Literature.  His recent books include Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books (Oxford UP, forthcoming July 2017), Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature (UP Mississippi, 2012), Keywords for Children's Literature (co-edited with Lissa Paul, NYU Press, 2011), Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children's Literature (co-edited with Julia Mickenberg, NYU Press, 2008), and The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats (Random House, 2007). With Eric Reynolds, he is currently co-editing Fantagraphics' five-volume collection of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby, which will reprint the complete run of the comic strip (1942-1952) for the first time. Published so far: Barnaby Vol. 1: 1942-1943 (2013), Barnaby Vol. 2: 1944-1945 (2014), and Barnaby Vol. 3: 1946-1947 (2016). With Lissa Paul and Nina Christensen, he is co-editing a second edition of Keywords for Children's Literature (NYU Press). More information.

Anne Phillips specializes in children’s and adolescent literature, teaching a range of courses including “Illustration in Children’s Literature” and “Film Adaptations of Children’s Classics.” Phillips and colleague Gregory Eiselein have co-edited several books about Louisa May Alcott: The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia (2001), and the Norton Critical Edition of Little Women (2004), as well as two recent volumes for Salem Press, Critical Insights: Little Women (2015), and Critical Insights: Louisa May Alcott (2016). She is currently co-editing a volume of essays on Laura Ingalls Wilder. Recent presentations have focused on a transmedia adaptation of Little Women, The March Family Letters, and on Andrew Clements’ Phoenix Award-winning novel Frindle. Currently the Associate Department Head, Anne has served as the President of the Children’s Literature Association and chaired the MLA Division on Children's Literature. She is currently President of the Louisa May Alcott Society. More information

Joe Sutliff Sanders is the co-editor of a book of essays on The Secret Garden and the author of a book on classic orphan girl novels and the literary history of discipline.  His current book project explores how children's nonfiction can invite critical engagement. He has also published essays on children's comics, picture books, fantasy, and metafiction, and he teaches courses on children's visual texts, girls' fiction, and nonfiction as well as introductions to literature for children and adolescents. More information.

Karin Westman specializes in Twentieth-century and contemporary British literature, including children’s and young adult literature of that period. She has presented and published on contemporary British culture in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, "cross-over" or "dual-audience" literature, and information literacy and technology in pre-service teacher education.  In 2005, she chaired a session at the Modern Language Association on "Children's Literature and Modernism" and another in 2015 on "Sites of Memory in Children’s Literature." With Naomi Wood and David Russell, she serves as editor for The Lion and the Unicorn (JHUP/Project Muse).  More information.

Naomi Wood
specializes in literature for and about children with particular interest in Victorian literature and culture. She has published on Victorian fantasists, Walt Disney's Cinderella, and modern works of fantasy by Virginia Hamilton and others. She is currently engaged in a major project about Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and Philip Pullman. She was chair of the Children's Literature Association Article Awards Committee 2005-08. With Karin Westman and David Russell, she serves as editor for The Lion and the Unicorn (JHUP/Project Muse). More information.

What resources are available?

There are over 4,400 works of children's and young adult literature in the Juvenile Literature Collection housed in the Juvenile Reading Room at Hale Library. An additional 1,000-plus works are in Hale Library's Special Collections: many of these items belong to K-State's Cookery Collection (one of the top research collections of its kind in the United States); there are also numerous items in Special Collections by or pertaining to L. Frank Baum and Louisa May Alcott, as well as pop-up, movable, and toy books from the 19th through 21st centuries. Hale Library has hundreds of reference works on Children's Literature, including several scholarly journals.

What type of courses are offered?

We offer 600-800 level courses for our graduate students.  During the past 10 years, we've offered a range of courses, including:

  • ENGL 670. Harry Potter in Context (Karin Westman, Fall 2014)
  • ENGL 680. Radical Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Fall 2008)
  • ENGL 690.  Topics: Classics in Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2010)
  • ENGL 690.  Topics: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mildred Taylor, and the Shaping of American History (Anne Phillips, Spring 2006)
  • ENGL 695.  Topics: Children's Nonfiction (Joe Sutliff Sanders, Fall 2014)
  • ENGL 695. Illustration in Children's Literature (Anne Phillips, Fall 2009)
  • ENGL 703. Critical Approaches to Children's Literature (various instructors, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015)
  • ENGL 710. Children's and Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (Carol Franko, Summer 2009)
  • ENGL 710. The Golden Age of Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Fall 2006)
  • ENGL 710. Topics: International Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2011)
  • ENGL 710. Shakespeare & Children's Literature (Erica Hateley, Spring 2009)
  • ENGL 720.  Studies in a Major Author: Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain (Greg Eiselein, Spring 2005)
  • ENGL 725. African American Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Spring 2014)
  • ENGL 825. Seminar: Alcott and Twain (Greg Eiselein, Spring 2010)
  • ENGL 830.  Seminar: Golden Age of Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2015)
  • ENGL 825. Seminar: Film Adaptations of Children's Classics (Anne Phillips, Fall 2007, Spring 2013)
  • ENGL 830.  Seminar: Comics and Graphic Novels (Philip Nel, Fall 2009)
  • ENGL 830.  Seminar: Image, Text, Ideology: Picturebooks and Illustrated Works (Philip Nel, Fall 2003)
  • ENGL 830.  Seminar: The Invention of Childhood (Naomi Wood, Fall 2008)

What are the degree requirements?

3 courses in Literature9 hours
3 courses in Children's Literature
  • 600- or 700-level Children's Literature courses (e.g., ENGL 690: Topics in Literature for the Young)
 9 hours
3 elective courses 9 hours
  • 1 may be ENGL 799
  • 1 may be outside the department
 1 seminar 3 hours
 30 credit hour total 30 hours


  • language proficiency
  • writing project
  • oral examination

For more information on degree requirements and policies, please visit the department's Graduate Student Handbook.

For More Information

For application materials or for more information about the Program, contact:

Philip Nel, Director
Program in Children’s Literature
Department of English
103 ECS Building
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-6501
office: (785) 532-2165
FAX:  (785) 532-2192