Prof. Karin Lesnik Oberstein

Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, Media

The world-famous MA, run by CIRCL, is the oldest accredited degree in the field in Britain, and is taught by specialists in Children’s Literature, whose research is published internationally.

Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, MA (Bristol), MA (Amsterdam), PGCE (Amsterdam), PhD (Bristol)

Director of CIRCL and Coordinator of the M(Res.) in Children’s Literature

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein has taught Children’s Literature to undergraduates and post-graduates at the universities of Oxford, Roehampton, Warwick, and Reading. Her research interests are in critical theory, cultural studies, and feminist theory. Karin’s publications in the field include:

[book cover childrens literature]
Children’s Literature: Criticism and the Fictional Child

Clarendon Press, 1994, repr. 2000 and electronic copy 2012 and ongoing.

[book cover children in culture]
Children in Culture: Approaches to Childhood

as editor and contributor, Macmillan (now Palgrave)/ St Martin’s Press, 1998,
now available on demand from the publisher; with contributions from other CIRCL members.

[book cover yearbook of english studies children in literature]
Children in Literature’, volume 32 of the ‘Yearbook of English Studies

as editor and contributor, Maney Publishing for the Modern Humanities Research Association, 2002; with contributions from other CIRCL members.

[book cover childrens literature new approaches]
Children’s Literature: New Approaches

as editor and contributor, with contributions from other CIRCL members.
Palgrave, 2004.

[book cover the last taboo]
The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair

as editor and contributor, with contributions from other CIRCL members
Manchester University Press, 2006. The Last Taboo is also in paperback (republished in paperback in 2011) See now in 2018 the first advert showing hair on women’s bodies before shaving!

[book cover children in culture revisited]
Children in Culture, Revisited: Further Approaches to Childhood 

as editor and contributor, with contributions from other CIRCL members. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

[book cover rethinking disability theory and practice]
Rethinking Disability Theory and Practice: Challenging Essentialism

Published by Palgrave publishers in 2015 and edited, introduced and first chapter by Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and including chapters by other CIRCL members including Dr Sue Walsh and Dr Neil Cocks. 

Karin’s articles and chapters in the field

‘Defining Children’s Literature and Childhood’ in: Peter Hunt (ed.), The International Companion Encyclopaedia of Children’s Literature, Routledge, 1996.

‘Children’s Literature and the Environment’, in: Neil Sammels and Richard Kerridge (eds), Writing the Environment, Zed Books, 1997.

‘The Body of the Child in Dutch and English Children’s Literature’ in: Cedric Brown and Therese Fischer-Seidel (eds), Cultural Negotiations: Sichtweisen des Anderen, A. Francke Verlag, Tubingen, (Germany), 1998.

‘Fantasy, Literature,and Childhood: In Pursuit of Wonderlands’, in: Barbara White and Ceri Sullivan (eds), Writing Fantasy, Longman, 1999.

The editing and introducing (with Tony Watkins and Catriona Nicholson) of the January 1999 volume (23.1) of The Lion and the Unicorn on ‘Contemporary British Children’s Literature’.

‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Children’s Literature Criticism’, in: Cultural Critique, vol. 45, Autumn 2000, 222-42.

Oliver Twist: The Narrator’s Tale’, in: Textual Practice, March 2001, 87-100.

(co-authored with Dr Stephen Thomson): ‘What is Queer Theory Doing with the Child?’, in: Parallax, vol. 8, no. 1, 2002, 35-46.

‘Holiday House: Grist to The Mill on the Floss or Childhood as Text’, in: ‘Children in Literature’ ,special section of The Yearbook of English Studies, ed. Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, Volume 32, Number 1, 1 January 2002 , pp. 77-94.

‘On “Wanting a Child”, or: An Idea of Desire’, in: Indeterminate Bodies, eds. Naomi Segal, Lib Taylor and Roger Cook, Palgrave, 2003.

‘The Philosophical Investigations’ Children’, in Educational Philosophy and Theory, 4:35, October 2003, 381-94.

‘The Owned Child and Commodification’, in New Antigone, 1:1, October 2005, 20-7.

‘Children’s Literature’, an overview article for the on-line Literary Encylopedia, 25-08-2008.

‘Childhood, Queer Theory, and Feminism’ in Feminist Theory, 11:3, December 2010, 309-21.

‘Motherhood, Evolutionary Psychology and Mirror Neurons or: “Grammar is Politics by Other Means”‘, in Feminist Theory, May 2015, doi: 10.1177/1464700115586514

‘Children’s Literature: Sexual Identity, Gender and Childhood’, in BREAC (this article can be read for free online at this link), 2016.

‘Gender, childhood and children’s literature: the CIRCL approach’, Asian Women, 32 (2), 2016, pp. 1-26. ISSN 1225-925X doi: 10.14431/aw.2016.

‘Children’s Literature, Cognitivism and Neuroscience’ in Ralf Schneider and Sandra Dinter (eds), Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Childhood in Contemporary Britain: Literature, Media and Society (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 67-85.

Co-written with Dr Neil Cocks (50% each author): ‘Back to Where We Came From: Evolutionary Psychology and Children’s Literature and Media’, in Elisabeth Wesseling (ed.), Reinventing Childhood Nostalgia: Books, Toys and Contemporary Media Culture (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 318-37.

Fourth republication of ‘Essentials: What is Children’s Literature? What is Childhood?’ from: Understanding Children’s Literature, ed. Peter Hunt, London: Routledge, pp. 15-29, in a Czech translation in: Jana Segi Lukavská (ed.) Dítěti vstříc: teorie literatury pro děti a mládež, series Teoretická knihovna (literary theory) (co-published by Host Publishing House and the Czech Institute of Czech Literature at the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2018)

‘Revisiting the Philosophical Investigations’ Children’ in: Wittgenstein Studien, the Journal of the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 9:1, 2018, 227-49.

‘The Case of The Case of Peter Pan or the Impossibility of Children’s Fiction: Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis, Childhood, Animality’, The Oxford Literary Review, special issue on Children’s Literature, edited by Tim Clark and Jennifer Ford, 2019, 41.2: 238–257, DOI: 10.3366/olr.2019.0281

‘Issues in Childhood Disability Studies: The age of anti-psychoanalysis’ in: Dan Goodley, Katherine Runswick-Cole and Kirsty Liddiard (eds), Interventions in Disabled Childhood Studies (Sheffield: iHuman Press, 2020), pp. 55-8.

Five entries: ‘Sexual Orientation’ (3000 words), ‘In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)’ (2500 words), Critical Theory of Childhood (2000 words), ‘Neuroscience’ (1500 words), ‘Critical Children’s Literature Studies’ (1500 words) in: Dan Cook (ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies (London: SAGE, 2020)

Childhood, children’s literature and (trans)gender identity in current western discourse’. In: Ziqiang Zhu and Derong Xu (eds), New International Perspectives: a Collection of Lectures on Children’s Literature (Jinan: Tomorrow Press, 2023)

Children’s literature, animals and the environment’. In: Ziqiang Zhu and Derong Xu (eds), New International Perspectives: a Collection of Lectures on Children’s Literature (Jinan: Tomorrow Press, 2023)

Why and how to claim ‘intertextuality’? With special consideration of the influence of children’s literature on adult literature’. In: Ziqiang Zhu and Derong Xu (eds), New International Perspectives: a Collection of Lectures on Children’s Literature (Jinan: Tomorrow Press, 2023)

From psychobabble to neuro-nonsense: cognitivism, neuroscience and children’s literature.’ In: Ziqiang Zhu and Derong Xu (eds), New International Perspectives: a Collection of Lectures on Children’s Literature (Jinan: Tomorrow Press, 2023). You can access this full article for free online.

Gender, childhood and children’s literature: the CIRCL approach’. In: Ziqiang Zhu and Derong Xu (eds), New International Perspectives: a Collection of Lectures on Children’s Literature (Jinan: Tomorrow Press, 2023)

‘Literature, Literary Pedagogy and Extinction Rebellion (XR): The Case of Tarka the Otter. In: John Parham (ed.), The Literature and Politics of the Environment, series: Essays and Studies 2023, series ed. Ceri Sullivan (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2023), pp. 109-27.


Karin Lesnik-Oberstein teaches the Theory of Children’s Literature module of the M(Res.) in Children’s Literature, convenes the Myth, Folktale and Popular Culture Folktale module and contributes to the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Children’s Literature module. She is also the designer and web-mistress of this web-site.

Karin being awarded the Faculty Student Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning 2010 (on 1st July 2010). Karin was also awarded the Reading Student Union Excellence in Teaching Award as Personal Tutor in 2015.

[karin being awarded faculty student award]