July 7, 2020
English alumni and faculty honored by international association
Two recent graduates and a faculty member in English have received awards from the Children's Literature Association.
Dustin Vann, who earned his master's in English and creative writing from Kansas State University in May, has received the Graduate Student Essay Award at the Master of Arts level for his essay, "'Sissy that walk!': RuPaul's Drag Race and the Mainstreaming of Drag Culture in Children's and Young Adult Literature."
In their award citation, the judges praised Vann's "facility with both picture book theory and queer theory" and the essay's "well-written and engaging prose style." They were impressed with Vann's attention to "the tension between fully embracing the power of gender performance and adhering to traditional (perhaps less transgressional) publishing structures/requirements."
Katie Buhler, who earned her bachelor's in elementary education with a minor in English in May, has received the Carol Gay Award Honor for her essay, "Justice for All? Quilting a Literary Analysis of A Wreath for Emmett Till."
Buhler's essay explores a multimedia approach to poet Marilyn Nelson's award-winning crown sonnet sequence on Emmett Till, drawing on the art of quilting, elements of visual design, and critical race theory. The judges praised Buhler for how her essay "successfully navigates complex topics" while also being a "pleasure to read."
Vann's and Buhler's essays were sponsored by Anne Phillips, professor of English and children's literature.
Phillips herself is the 2020 recipient of the ChLA Mentoring Award, one of the association's highest honors.
The award recognizes "excellence in mentoring taking place within the ChLA and extending beyond the boundaries of the mentor's own university." Awardees have "contributed in significant ways to enhancing others' scholarship and/or professional careers within the field of children's literature over a substantial period of time."
The nomination letters for Phillips document her extensive contributions: how she has "transformed the field of Children's Literature and has shaped the inclusive, outreaching climate of ChLA" through "her faith in the vision and ability of others," her ability to welcome and support colleagues from "a variety of institutions, backgrounds, and interests," and her "care for everyone in her orbit."
For more information about the department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences and its Program in Children's Literature, visit the department's website, its social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and the department's blog.