CIRCL Seminars, Lectures and Conferences

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.

CIRCL Seminars, Lectures, Conferences

CIRCL Seminars


16th October 2019, Dr Bonnie McGill, a former CIRCL BA, MA and PhD student, gave a CIRCL Research Seminar on ‘Method Reading’.

6th March 2019, Dr Sue Walsh from the Department of English Literature and CIRCL gave a CIRCL Research Seminar on: “Nigerian literature in the archives of the African Writers Series: questions of education, ‘authenticity’ and language”.

23rd January 2019, Mrs Sara Zadrozny, former CIRCL BA and MA student, now PhD student at the University of Portsmouth, gave a CIRCL Research Seminar on: ‘How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty?’: Anthropomorphism in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass (1871).


31st January 2018, Mrs Sara Zadrozny, former CIRCL BA and MA student, current PhD student at Portsmouth University, gave a CIRCL seminar on her research on ‘Skin memory and ageing women in the Victorian Gothic’.


22th February 2017, Dr Krissie West, Department of English Literature, spoke on ‘The Child as Witch in Three New England Texts, looking at Cotton Mather’s The Family Well-Ordered; Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter; and Emerson’s Domestic Life.

8th February 2017, Dr Wendy O’Shea-Meddour, Department of English Literature and successful children’s author, spoke on ‘Battling with the Gatekeepers: Censorship and Silence within the British Children’s Publishing Industry’.

18th January 2017, Dr Chris Milson, former CIRCL BA, MA and PhD student, spoke on ‘Reading Funny Words: Sex, Gender and Language in Silverberg and Smyth’s Sex is a Funny Word.

7th December 2016, Professor Zhu Ziqiang, Professor of the College of Literature & Journalism of Ocean University of China and Head of the Children’s Literature Institute, spoke on ‘Key Issues in Contemporary Chinese Children’s Literature Theories’.

30th November 2016, CIRCL Visiting Scholar Xu Dan spoke on ‘Discipline and Deviation: Representations of Children in Chinese Revolutionary Story Picture Books, the 1970s’.


16th March 2016, Dr Stefan Neubert and Ms Katarina Schneider from the University of Cologne, Germany, spoke on ‘Interest, Discipline and Power in Dewey and Foucault’.

2nd March 2016, Chris Milson (CIRCL PhD student) spoke on ‘Ideas of the Transgender Child in Sex is a Funny Word  by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’.


11th November 2015, Leah Phillips, former CIRCL MA student, now University of Warwick PhD candidate, spoke on: ‘”Real” Women Aren’t Shiny (or Plastic): The Adolescent Female Body in YA Fantasy.’

25th March 2015, Dr Jess Medhurst-Sage (CIRCL and English Department, University of Reading) led a work-in-progress discussion on ‘Reading Looking and the Child in Penguin Modern Classics’ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

11th March 2015, Ms Emma Reeves (Part 3 BA student) gave a CIRCL seminar on: “WeightConcern’s, ‘Talking to your child about weight – the do’s and don’ts’”

10th December 2014, Dr Jan de Vos from the University of Ghent in Belgium spoke on “Mother Brain. The brain as the simulacrum of nature”.

22nd October 2014, Professor Evelyn Perry from Framingham State University, USA, spoke on “Children’s Literature at War”.


14th May 2014, Professor Stefan Ramaekers from the University of Leuven, Belgium and Dr Judith Suissa from the Institute of Education in London gave a CIRCL seminar on: “What is this thing called love? Reflections on the scientization of parenting”

12th February 2014, CIRCL’s Sara Zadrozny gave a CIRCL seminar on her research on: ‘The same, but different.  Reading ideas of the family in books for children’

27th November 2013, CIRCL PhD student Chris Milson gave a CIRCL seminar, leading a close reading of The Black Book of Colours, considering issues around childhood and disability.

6th November 2013, CIRCL PhD student Krissie West gave a CIRCL seminar on ‘Observation and Conversation: A. Bronson Alcott’s Constructions of Childhood’.


April 24th 2013, Dr Helle Strandgaard Jensen, from the European University Institute, gave a CIRCL seminar on her research on ‘Defining the (In)appropriate. Scandinavian debates about the role of media in children’s lives, 1950-1985’.

March 13th 2013, Jess Medhurst (Sage), CIRCL PhD student, gave a seminar on ‘What is with Alice? Reading Alice in the National Portrait Gallery Archive’.

January 30th 2013, Dr Kirsty Pennicard-Wood (CIRCL), gave a seminar on: ‘Literature, Psychoanalysis, Childhood: Re-Considering “Little Hans”’.


February 29th 2012, Professor Faye Hammill of the University of Strathclyde spoke on her work on ideas of childhood and sophistication in relation to her book Sophistication: A Literary and Cultural History.

January 25th 2012, Dr Catrin Edwards of the University of East Anglia, spoke on Reading “Childhood and screen memories” from Freud’s Psychopathology’.

October 26th 2011, Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein gave a seminar for both CIRCL and the Modern Studies Research Seminar series on ‘Voice, Agency and the Child’.


February 16th 2011, Ian Mulholland (University of Reading student) gave a CIRCL seminar on his UROP funded research on ‘Rereading Robinson Crusoe: Changing Ideas of Child Readers.’

October 13th 2010, a joint seminar was held by the Centre for Reading and Writing and CIRCL: Elinor Sisulu gave a presentation on the work of the South-African Puku Children’s Literature Foundation.


March 17th 2010, Dr Sophie Heywood, lecturer in the French Department of the University of Reading, spoke on ‘The Comtesse de Ségur’s Petites Filles Modèles [Model Little Girls] 1858-2010′

March 10th 2010, Dr Helen Ainslie, Research Assistant in the Department of English Language and Literature, gave a workshop about holdings in the University of Reading Archives and issues around using archive material for research.

February 24th 2010, Dr Sian Pooley, Junior Research Fellow in History at Cambridge University, spoke on ‘Narratives of Childhood: innocence, intimacy and emotion in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century England’.

March 3rd 2010, Dr Celia Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Sociology from the University of Lancaster spoke on ‘Anticipating Sex: Pubescent girls, biomedicine and the present’.

February 17th 2010, Professor Lies Wesseling, Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, spoke on ‘Cultural Subtexts of Global Adoption’.

January 20th 2010, Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, Professor of Law at the University of Reading as well as a distinguished historian of the girls’ school story, spoke on ‘Popular children’s fiction and legal consciousness’.

December 2nd 2009, Dr Malini Roy, Chichester University Graduate Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tale and Fantasy Studies, spoke on ‘William Godwin’s Juvenile Library: Re(ad)dressing Children’s Literature in the Romantic Era’.


February 18th 2009, Ms Vanessa Harbour, PhD student at the University of Winchester, spoke about: ‘Drugs – the normalisation debate and Young Adult Fiction’.

December 3rd 2008, Dr So-Jin Park spoke on: ‘Harry Potter as Imperial Legacy’.

November 19th 2008, Dr Daniel Monk, Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck College, University of London, spoke on: “Homophobic Bullying in Schools: ‘It’s so straight’!”


February 27th, 2008, Dr Neil Cocks gave a CIRCL seminar on “Student-Graduate Centred: The Idea of Audience in Educational Theory”

December 5th, 2007, Iain Bailey, PhD student at the University of Manchester, gave a CIRCL seminar on: “‘Harsh reproof, or trivial event’: Yeats, the Child and Tragedy”.


February 28th, 2007, Ms So-Jin Park (PhD student, Lancaster University, past Reading MA student) gave a CIRCL seminar on ‘Lingering Imperialism: the children, Narnia and hybridity in “The Chronicles of Narnia”‘.

January 31st, 2007, Dr Maeve Pearson gave a CIRCL seminar on ‘Cutting the Marionette’s Strings: alienation and responsibility in “His Dark Materials”‘.

November 29th, 2006, Dr Sarah Spooner (part-time lecturer University of Reading) gave a CIRCL seminar on ‘Perfect Blanks?: maps and children’s literature’ .

November 8th, 2006, Ms Melanie Keene (PhD student, Cambridge University) gave a CIRCL seminar on ‘Singing Saurians: The voices of geology in John Mill’s “Fossil Spirit” (1854)’, in which she considered how Victorian writers employed a wide range of often remarkable strategies as they attempted to formulate knowledge about nature for young audiences.


March 8th, 2006, Dr Catherine Spooner (Lecturer in English, University of Lancaster), lectured on ‘”The Lady is a Vamp”: Cruella de Vil and the Cultural Politics of Fur’.

February 15th, 2006, Hannah Smith (CIRCL PHD student) lectured on her research on ‘The Problem of the Silent Text: Deafness and Writing’.

November 16th, 2005, Dr Jenny Bavidge (University of Greenwich) spoke on ‘Min(or)torial Geographies: Representing Urban Space in Children’s Fiction’.

October 26th, 2005, Verity Hunt (CIRCL PhD student) gave: ‘A Workshop Introduction to Reading Picture Books’.


May 25th, 2005, Mrs Elisabeth Eldridge (CIRCL PhD student) spoke on: “‘Broken Arcs’: Originality and Retelling, Authority and Meaning in Geraldine McCaughrean’s Not the End of the World (2004)”.

May 18th, 2005, Mr Jad Adams (an historian working as an independent television producer and author), spoke on: “‘Your child for ever?: private and public childhood in the marriage of William and Edna Clarke Hall”.

May 4th, 2005, Dr Loraine Fletcher (University of Reading) spoke on “Long John Silver, Karl Marx and the Ship of State”.

February 16, 2005, Dr Tess Cosslett (University of Lancaster) spoke on “19th Century Carnivalesque Animal Poems for Children: The ‘Papillonades’ and ‘Signor Topsy-Turvey’s Magic Lantern Show’”.

February 2, 2005, Dr Josie Dolan (University of the West of England) lectured on ‘Child Star! Embodiment and Desire’.

January 19, 2005, Dr Jonathan Bignell (Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading) lectured on ‘Teletubbies and the Postmodern Child’.

November 17, 2004, Dr Simon Flynn (Guest Lecturer on the MA in Children’s Literature) lectured on ‘Out with Romany: nature and the performance of childhood’.


March 10, 2004, Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri, from Jadavpur University in India, lectured on ‘Pooh in Perplexity’.

March 3, 2004, Ms Yuko Ashitagawa, CIRCL PhD student, lectured on ‘Ideas of Orality in Fairy-Tale Criticism’.

February 18, 2004, Dr Sujala Singh, Lecturer at the University of Southampton, lectured on ‘The Postcolonial Child: Mediating the Nation in Bapsi Sidhwa, Shyam Selvadurai and Arundhati Roy’.

January 21, 2004, Dr Daniela Caselli, Lecturer at the University of Salford, lectured on ‘The Natural and the Legitimate: Intertextuality in “Harry Potter”‘.

January 14, 2004, Ms Edel Lamb, PhD student from the Queen’s University, Belfast, lectured on ‘Children in Performance: Age and Gender on the Early Modern Stage’.

November 26, 2003, Dr Simon Flynn, Guest lecturer on the MA in Children’s Literature, lectured on ‘Those Billets: Children’s Hour’s mediation of the First Evacuation 1939-1940’.

November 19, 2003, Hilary Fraser, CIRCL PhD student, lectured on ‘Time and Narrative in T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone‘.

October 15, 2003, Dr Neil Cocks (South East Essex College) lectured on ‘”Scripture Its Own Interpreter”: Reading the Autobiography of Martha Mary Sherwood’.


May 21, 2003, Dr Sharyn Pearce (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia) lectured on ‘Boys Behaving Badly? American Pie as a New Age Sex Manual’.

November 20, 2002, Professor Rosemary Johnston (University of Technology, Sidney, Australia) gave a lecture on ‘Australian Picture Books and the Visual Chronotrope’


Professor Lynne Vallone (Texas A&M University, USA) gave a lecture on ‘Time, The Gigantic and the Miniature in Children’s Literature’.


June 5, 2002, Dr Farah Mendlesohn (Middlesex University) gave a lecture on ‘Diana Wynne Jones and the Development of Agency’.

January 30, 2002, Dr Josie Dolan (CIRCL AHRB Fellow) gave a lecture on ‘Unsettling Authority: Aunties and Uncles in BBC Radio Children’s Hour.

(no seminars in Autumn Term 2001)


February 15, 2001, Dr Peter Stoneley (Lecturer in American Studies at the Queen’s University of Belfast) gave a lecture on constructions of ‘girlhood’ in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century American culture and children’s literature.

February 1, 2001, Dr Josie Dolan (CIRCL AHRB Research Fellow) gave a lecture on aspects of her AHRB research, considering how ideas about memory, archives, radio, and the child operate in critical discourses.

December 7, 2000, Ms Sue Walsh (final year CIRCL PhD student) gave a lecture on aspects of her PhD research on ‘The Child in Wolf’s Clothing’, discussing critical work on Kipling, and re-analysing some of his texts in the light of new theoretical approaches.

November 9, 2000, [details forthcoming]


March 9, 2000, Dr Jean Webb (University College, Worcester) gave a talk on ‘Alternative Voices to English Imperialism’

February 10, 2000, Professor Peter Hunt (Professor of Children’s Literature, University of Wales, Cardiff), came to talk on: ‘Looking Back: Fantasy … and Looking Forward: Internet and Narrative’.

October 14, 1999, Philip Pullman (author of the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, starting with the novel Northern Lights) spoke on the process of writing in relation to his forthcoming novel, the third part of the trilogy.

November 18, 1999, Professor Chris Jenks (Goldsmiths’ College, University of London) gave a lecture on ‘Children’s Embodiment of Time’, in which he discussed theoretical issues to do with the constructions of ‘childhood’ and ‘time’ in relation to one an other.


March 4, 1999, Dr Irene Wise (Roehampton Institute) gave a lecture on Children’s Literature and World War Two.

February 11, 1999, Dr Lisa Sainsbury (Roehampton Institute) gave a lecture on children’s multi-media.

January 21, 1999, Dr Michael Rosen spoke on autobiography and poetry.

November 19, 1998, Neil Cocks (CIRCL PhD student) gave a lecture on ‘”Repetition” in the Boy’s Department Story’

November 5, 1998, Professor Margarida Morgado (Escola Superior de Educacao, Castelo Branco, Portugal) gave a lecture on ‘Childhood in Memoir and Fiction’.


March 5, 1998, Wendy Parsons (University of Western Australia) spoke on Australian national identity in Australian children’s fiction and picture books.

February 12, 1998, Dr Jenny Bourne Taylor (University of Sussex) spoke on the foundling hospital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and concepts of childhood.

January 22, 1998, Dr Rex Stainton Rogers (Dept. of Psychology, University of Reading) spoke about current concepts of childhood and sexuality.

December 4, 1997, Jane Doonan spoke on theoretical approaches to picturebooks.

October 30, 1997, Professor Louisa Smith (Mankato State University, USA) gave a lecturer on Edith Nesbit’s illustrator H. R. Millar.


May 22, 1997, Professor Ruth Bottigheimer (University of Stony Brook, New York) gave a seminar on ‘The use of Bible Stories in the development of narrative for children in the late 17th and early 18th centuries’.

May 15, 1997, Jody Lynne Nye talked about her work as a science-fiction writer and designer of computer games for children.

May 10, 1997, a lecture was given by Professor Jean Perrot as part of the special one-day postgraduate conference, Reeling and Writhing II. Professor Jean Perrot (Universite Paris-Nord, and Director of the Institut International Charles Perrault) gave a lecture entitled ‘The Avant-garde in French Children’s Picture Books and Fiction’.

March 13, 1997, Dr Stephen Thomson (then still at the Dept. of English, University of Glasgow) gave a talk entitled ‘Any Old Iron? Alan Garner’s Myths of Change and Continuity’. (Working from Garner’s criticisms of modernity/modern life, Dr Thomson lead into a more general discussion of myths that help to police the borders between Nature and Civilisation)

February 27, 1997, Professor Margarida Morgado (Escola Superior de Educacao, Castelo Branco, Portugal) gave a paper entitled ‘Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Constructions of the Child in British Adult and Children’s Literature’.

CIRCL Lectures

May 13th 2013, Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, Director of CIRCL and the M(Res.) in Children’s Literature, gave a Marie Curie Research Seminar on ‘Children’s Literature, Cognitivism and Neuroscience, or, Capitalism and/ as the Return to the Same’, at Queen Mary College, University of London.

February 19th 2013, CIRCL’s Dr Sue Walsh gave a seminar at the Museum of English Rural Life on ‘”Wilderness, as a baptism of nature”: childhood and the nature fakers’.

December 17th 2012, CIRCL’s Dr Neil Cocks gave the University of Reading’s annual Children’s Christmas lecture on ‘Mystery and Monsters: Charles Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

November 27th 2012, CIRCL’s Dr Neil Cocks gave a seminar at the Museum of English Rural Life on ‘Country Education and Late Eighteenth-Century Literature.’

March 1st 2012, CIRCL’s Dr Neil Cocks, gave a University Public Seminar on ‘The Ladybird Archive at Reading’. Mr Guy Baxter, the University Archivist, brought an exhibition from the Ladybird Archives to accompany the seminar.

February 21st 2012, Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, the Director of CIRCL and the MA(Res) in Children’s Literature, gave a lecture at the Museum of English Rural Life on ‘Children’s Literature and the Pastoral.’

January 20th 2011, Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, the Director of CIRCL and the MA(Res) in Children’s Literature, gave a lecture in the University’s Public Seminar Series on ‘The influence of children’s literature on adult literature’.
‘The Paradox of Enid Blyton’ (11-October-1997)

A lecture by Dr. David Rudd (Bolton Institute of Higher Education) took place in the Lecture room of the Reading and Language Graduate Centre, Bulmershe Campus.

CIRCL Conferences

CIRCL’s International Interdisciplinary Conference on ‘National and Cultural Identity in Children’s Literature and Media’, took place at the University of Reading from April 5th to 8th, 2001. Over one hundred people attended the conference, with almost seventy speakers from fifteen countries.

Plenary speakers included:
Prof. Jean Perrot (Universite Paris-Nord, and Director of the Institut International Charles Perrault)
Dr Josie Dolan (University of Reading CIRCL AHRB Research Fellow 1999-2001, now at the University of the West of England)
Prof. David Buckingham (University of London, Institute of Education)
Dr Margaret Meek Spencer (Reader emeritus, University of London, Institute of Education)

‘Re-constructing the Riverbank: The Wind in the Willows and after’ (25-April-1998)

Plenary Speakers: William Horwood; Peter Hollindale.

1998 marked the 90th anniversary of the publication of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Since its publication, the novel has provoked a number of responses from a wide variety of literary, cultural and theoretical positions and it has become an important text in debates about gender, cultural myth, national identity and the ‘heritage industries’.

The Wind in the Willows has been adapted for the stage, for film and for television and it has stimulated novelistic responses by authors such as Jan Needle and William Horwood.

The conference explored these and other aspects of The Wind in the Willows as cultural text.