Sunday 12 February 2017

"What do you do at Goldsmiths, Michael?"

People sometimes ask me what I do at Goldsmiths, University of London.

I have a job there: I am a professor of children's literature, working part-time throughout the academic year, co-teaching two terms of seminars on our MA in Children's Literature:  'Theory and Practice of Children's Literature' and 'Children's Literature in Action'. I helped to co-devise the course and we tweak it each year in response to students' comments.

The 'Theory and Practice' term looks at the kinds of critical approaches one can take towards children's books - e.g. psychoanalytic, historical, from the point of view of genre and so on. The 'Action' term asks students to devise a project, taking children's books to children themselves and observing what happens. It can be school-, home- or library-based (or any other environment) which brings children and books together.

I tutor most of the students doing their 5000 word assignments for each of these two terms - they receive two half-hour one-to-one tutorials and I mark these assignments.

I also give one-off lectures, occasional seminars with BA students on their education courses, and offer some supervision of MA dissertations.

People doing the MA in Children's Literature at Goldsmiths can choose between three pathways: Critical, Creative, and Illustration. I only teach on the Critical pathway. Why not the Creative? Because I'm not very good at it. I have enough trouble teaching myself how to edit my own creative work!

The course is open to people who have a good first degree and can show interest in the subject. Those who want to follow the Creative and Illustration pathways have to present evidence of their work.