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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?

W.W. Denslow, Tin Woodsman from L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz (1900)The Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter, Cassie Logan, Jo March, Starr Carter, 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.

What kinds of projects do students pursue?

Students in Children's Literature complete course work and final projects across a range of genres, periods, and authors. Recent final projects include:

  • "'Perfectly Normal, Thank You Very Much': Dichotomous Hybridity as a Tool in Harry Potter" (Molly Burt, MA '20)
  • "Imagining Recovery: Reading Trauma Recovery Through the Manifested Imagination" (Mikayla Sharpless, MA '20)
  • "Potter, Pussies, and the Patriarchy: The Gendered Relationship Between Cats and Women in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series" (Katie Cline, MA '20)
  • "How could you become what you already are?: Coming of Age in Rita Williams-Garcia’s Gaither Sisters’ Trilogy" (Latrice Ferguson, MA '19)
  • "Contraception, Consent, and Community in Kristin Cashore's Graceling Trilogy” (Corinne Matthews, MA '17)
  • "Tending the Fire: Indigenous Masculinities in The Birchbark House Series" (Courtney Thompson, MA '20)
  • "'Matilda was a little late in starting school': Rethinking Gender in Roald Dahl's Matilda through the Genre of the English Girls' School Story" (Meredith Flory, MA '13)
  • "'Let Us Find Another Picture to Cut Out': Child's Play and Narrative Construction in the Novels of Woolf and Bowen" (Chris Comer, MA '17)

Students may also 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. Students planning to produce a final project of creative work should complete the required Creative Writing track coursework (three graduate courses in creative writing in a minimum of two genres, with at least two courses at the 700-level). See the Graduate Student Handbook.

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.

children's literature students at 2019 Mock Caldecott

Children's literature students at our Mock Caldecott, Dec. 2019

Who are the faculty and what do they work on?

Greg Eiselein (photo)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 (photo)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 (photo)Anuja Madan teaches courses in world literature, children’s literature and cultural studies. She conducts research on contemporary Indian children’s literature, media and childhoods, and graphic narratives. 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, redactions of classics in Indian textbooks, and Jean-Luc Godard's films. Her recent articles include one on a graphic novel retelling of the Ramayana, published in Graphic Novels for Young Adults and Children: a Collection of Critical Essays (2017), edited by Michelle Ann Abate and Gwen Athene Tarbox, and another on contemporary Indian animation films for children, which appears in The Routledge Companion to International Children’s Literature (2017), edited by John Stephens, Celia Abicalil BelmiroAlice Curry, et al. She is currently working on a book project that investigates post-millennial Indian graphic narratives and animations which draw on Hindu mythology, paying special attention to cross-cultural influences and processes of nation-building within these texts.  More information.

Philip Nel (photo)Philip Nel teaches courses in children’s literature and comics, and serves as the Director of the Program in Children’s Literature. His most recent book is Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books (Oxford UP, 2017). With Eric Reynolds, he is 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. Barnaby Vol. 4: 1948-1949 will be published December 2020. Also forthcoming: the second edition of Keywords for Children's Literature, co-edited with Lissa Paul and Nina Christensen (NYU Press, January 2021). More information.

Anne Phillips (photo)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

Karin E. Westman (photo)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, young fans of Hamiliton, modernism and children's literature, "cross-over" or "dual-audience" literature, and information literacy and technology in pre-service teacher education.  With Naomi Wood and David Russell, she serves as editor for The Lion and the Unicorn (JHUP/Project Muse).  More information.

Naomi Wood (photo)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 Philip Pullman. She is currently engaged in a project about fantastic theism in Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, and Terry Pratchett. She has served the Children's Literature Association as chair of the Article Awards Committee, on the ChLA Board and on the Publications Committee. She currently chairs the Anne Devereaux Jordan Committee. With Karin Westman and David Russell, she edits The Lion and the Unicorn (JHUP/Project Muse). More information.

Kadir Nelson speaks at the ChaLC Conference, April 2014

Kadir Nelson speaks at the ChaLC Conference, April 2014

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 15 years, we've offered a range of courses, including:

  • ENGL 630. Childhood and Dickens (Naomi Wood, Fall 2021)
  • ENGL 630. Victorian Fairy Tales (Naomi Wood, Fall 2019)
  • ENGL 670. Harry Potter in Context (Karin Westman, Fall 2014, Fall 2018)
  • ENGL 680. Censoring Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Fall 2010)
  • ENGL 680. Radical Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Fall 2008, Spring 2018)
  • ENGL 690. Classics in Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2010)
  • ENGL 695. Illustration in Children's Literature (Anne Phillips, Fall 2009)
  • ENGL 695. Multiethnic Young Adult Literature (Anuja Madan, Spring 2019)
  • ENGL 695. Philip Pullman in Context (Naomi Wood, Spring 2017)
  • ENGL 703. Critical Approaches to Children's Literature (various instructors, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2021)
  • ENGL 710. Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (Carol Franko, Summer 2019)
  • ENGL 710. Dr. Seuss (Philip Nel, Spring 2012)
  • ENGL 710. The Golden Age of Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Fall 2006)
  • ENGL 710. International Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2011)
  • ENGL 725. African American Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020)
  • ENGL 725. Film Adaptations of Children's Classics (Anne Phillips, Spring 2016)
  • ENGL 730. Global Comics (Anuja Madan, Fall 2018)
  • ENGL 825. Seminar: Alcott and Twain (Greg Eiselein, Spring 2010)
  • 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, Spring 2016)
  • ENGL 830. Seminar: Golden Age of Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2015)
  • 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