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K-State Today

April 24, 2017



English department wins awards from Children's Literature Association

By Sarah Hancock

K-State scholars were recognized last month with awards from the Children's Literature Association.

Joe Sutliff Sanders, professor of English, won the organization's 2017 Article Award for "'Almost Astronauts' and the Pursuit of Reliability in Children's Nonfiction," which was published in the international quarterly journal Children's Literature in Education. Sanders' article considers a conflict in literature written for children between modeling inquiry and presenting authoritative facts. Sanders uses one of the most-decorated recent works of children's nonfiction to demonstrate the counterintuitive point that when nonfiction tries to be authoritative at all costs, it actually becomes less honest. The article provides the basis of a chapter in Sanders' book, "A Literature of Questions: Nonfiction for the Critical Child," forthcoming in January 2018 from the University of Minnesota Press.

"Joe has become a prominent figure in conversations about nonfiction for children, having won a significant grant to study the subject, and then having taught a highly successful course on it at K-State," said Anne Phillips, professor and associate head of the English department. "I'm not a bit surprised that he has won ChLA's Article Award for his nonfiction scholarship."

The department also garnered a student award that K-State students have often pursued but have never before won. Emily Allan, a December 2016 College of Education graduate, wrote the 2017 Honor Essay for the Carol Gay Award in recognition of the best undergraduate article about literature for children. The award is open to any undergraduate writing about literature for young people anywhere in the world. Papers must be written in English and nominated by a member of the association. Allan's essay, "'A Dem Fine Woman': Visual Representation of Beautiful Evil in Narnia," was nominated by Phillips, who specializes in children's and adolescent literature.

"Emily's project, originally written last spring for English 725, 'Film Adaptations of Children's Classics,' is original, insightful, and compelling. It was a great privilege to work with her on this project," Phillips said.

Allen's paper drew from extensive research on the award-winning British illustrator Pauline Baynes and applied the visual theories of Molly Bang and William Moebius, leading theorists of illustration, to explain how Baynes' work in C.S. Lewis's classic Narnia novels "creates a visual representation of female power." The essay also assesses the visual representation of the White Witch in the 2005 feature film adaptation of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

K-State also claims a portion of a research award. Sara Austin, who received her master of arts in English from K-State in 2012, received a Beiter Graduate Student Research Grant. Austin is now a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut.

Awardees will be honored at the annual ChLA conference on June 24 in Tampa, Florida. Read a complete list of award and grant winners.