Graduate Student Research

The Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh allows students to focus on Children's Literature and Childhood Studies (CLCS) as part of our PhD Program in Critical and Cultural Studies. Drawing on Pitt’s nationally-renowned faculty in Children’s Literature and Culture, the CLCS focal area pursues the interdisciplinary study of children’s literature and media from the U.S., Great Britain, and beyond. Pitt was a pioneering department in the field of children’s literature and continues to forge new directions in the field. Students in this focal area benefit from

  • Rigorous training in historical and archival literary studies as well as exceptional support for interdisciplinary projects on children's literature, media, and culture
  • An active undergraduate Children’s Literature program that offers excellent teaching opportunities for PhD students
  • Faculty strengths in American and British studies, queer studies, ecocriticism, ethnography, musicology, readership/literacy studies, and new media
  • The Elizabeth Nesbitt and Nietz Old Textbook Collections (containing children’s literature, materials related to the history of children’s literature, and nineteenth-century schoolbooks)
  • The papers of children's and YA authors, including E.L. Konigsburg and Daniel Kraus
  • A Childhood Studies lecture series that has brought scholars such as Robin Bernstein, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Jack Halberstam, Patricia Crain, Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Julia Mickenberg, Philip Nel, Karin Westman, Mary Celeste Kearney, Lauren Silver, Rebekah Sheldon, Alison Pugh, and Mitsuko Ito
  • Visits by authors of children’s and YA books including E. Lockhart, Jonathan Auxier, Daniel Kraus, Julie Murphy, and Sarah Dessen
  • An active Children's Literature and Childhood Studies reading group
  • Collaborative relations with the other focal areas in literary studies (in addition to department concentrations in film, composition, and writing)
    • Genealogies of Modernity: Medieval and Early Modern
    • Media and Material Practices
    • Race, Poetics, Empire

Individuals wishing to study Children's Literature at the MA level are also encouraged to apply to our MA Program in English. For information on applying to either program please visit the English Department Graduate web site.

Graduate students fulfill the general requirements for the MA and PhD degrees in addition to taking courses in children's literature and culture; writing theses and dissertations on the subject; and optionally designing directed studies with Pitt faculty. Please consult the Requirements page to familiarize yourself with the general requirements for these degrees.

Recent Pitt PhDs with dissertations on children's literature have been appointed to tenure-track positions at the University of Florida and Illinois State University. Others are working at institutions supporting scholarship and public humanities initiatives, including Yale Center for British Art and Books @ Work, a non-profit organization promoting lifelong literacy.