Dr Jane Suzanne Carroll B.A., Ph.D. (Dublin)
Ussher Associate Professor in Children's Literature, Co-Director of M.Phil. in Children's Literature
Research and Teaching Interests
My teaching and research interests centre on landscape and spatiality in children’s literature, nature writing, fantasy, and material culture. My first monograph, Landscape in Children’s Literature (2012) traced the development of literary landscapes from medieval texts through to twentieth-century children’s literature. My research has since moved indoors and in 2020, I was awarded a Sassoon Visiting Fellowship with the Bodleian Library, Oxford to complete research with the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera into the links between advertising, illustration, and child consumers. My latest book British Children’s Literature and Material Culture: Commodities and Consumption, 1850-1914 (2021) looks at all kinds of stuff – from lost property to pins, to motorcars and sentient furniture – in children’s fiction.
I am currently working on a new project “Collecting Childhood” that investigates the ways ordinary things find new values within the context of collection and asks how children – both child characters and child readers – engage in collecting and with collections.
Before I joined the School of English at Trinity College Dublin in 2016, I was a lecturer at the University of Roehampton (2012-2016) and worked for The Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction (2011).
My major research interests are in children’s literature, landscape, literary geography, fantasy, and material culture. My research is characterised by tracing connections between the imagined worlds of children’s fantasy and the real world. I am particularly interested in the little background details in texts that are often overlooked.
I have published on children’s fantasy, children’s material culture, and on authors including Susan Cooper, Terry Pratchett, J.R.R. Tolkien, M.R. James, and Jules Verne. My first monograph, Landscape in Children’s Literature (Routledge 2012), combined literature with morphology and landscape history to provide an innovative way to read the landscapes of children’s fantasy. My latest monograph, British Children's Literature and Material Culture: Commodities and Consumptions 1850-1914 (Bloomsbury 2021), investigates the intersection of children’s books and children’s consumerism and analyses the role and representation of commodities within British children’s literature. Beginning with the Great Exhibition of 1851, my work takes stock of the changing attitudes towards consumer culture, a movement from celebration to suspicion, and demonstrates that children's literature was a key consumer product, one that influenced young people's views of and relationships with other kinds of commodities.
My current project “Collecting Childhood” explores the intersection of children’s literature, book collections, and material culture. Building upon my work on children and material culture, this project investigates cultural narratives around collections and celebrates children as informed and self-directed collectors and organisers of material objects. Part of this project involves establishing a new research network that brings together academic researchers, museum staff, curators, librarians, creative practitioners and community stakeholders to generate new insights into the collection, display, study, and interpretation of childhood artefacts (such as books, toys, souvenirs and ephemera) in Ireland. The project involves a partnership with the Museum of Childhood Ireland (MoCI) and is funded by an Irish Research Council’s New Foundations award.
At undergraduate level, I convene the JF module Writing Childhoods: Power, Voice and Agency and the research-led option sophister-level modules Home & Away in Children’s Fiction and Children’s Literature: Collections and Recollections. With Dr Julie Bates, I am co-convenor of Exploring Heritage Collections which is open to undergraduates and to professionals working in cultural institutions around Dublin. This module is funded through the HEA’s Human Capital Initiative. I also contribute to the undergraduate module Pulp! Introduction to Popular Fiction.
I am a co-director of the MPhil in Children’s Literature and as well as teaching on the core course Perspectives and Case Studies, I offer an option module “This & Other Worlds: Global Children’s Fantasy”.
In 2021, I won a National Forum Teaching Hero Award.
I currently supervise three PhD students; Margaret Masterson’s Irish Research Council-funded project on representations of girlhood in Maria Edgeworth’s children’s books; Tony Flynn’s project on children’s marginalia in the Pollard Collection which is funded through the Provost’s Project Awards; and Amy Barkhaus’s project on Arts and Crafts writer and artist Bernard Sleigh.
I am involved in the Pratchett Project, an ongoing interdisciplinary project that brings together researchers and librarians from Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin; Senate House Library, University of London; and Liverpool University to investigate, celebrate, and talk about the work of Terry Pratchett: About - The Pratchett Project - Library Guides at Trinity College Dublin (tcd.ie)
I also direct the Children’s Literature Summer School: Children's Literature Summer School (childrenslitsummerschool.com)
Together with Dr Mark Sweetnam and Dr Joseph Clarke, and Librarian of the Edward Worth Library Elizabethanne Boran, I created a Massive Open Online Course, History Of The Book In The Early Modern Period: 1450-1800: The History of the Book: 1450-1800 - Online Course - FutureLearn
- British Children's Literature and Material Culture: Commodities and Consumption 1850-1914, London, Bloomsbury Perspectives on Children's Literature, 2021
- Landscape in Children's Literature, London and New York, Routledge (2012)
- “On the Edge of Chaos: Space and Power in Maria Edgeworth’s “The Grateful Negro” (1804)” co-author with Margaret Masterson, Barnelitterært forskningstidsskrif / Nordic Journal of Childlit Aesthetics (BLFT) (2022)
- “Girlhood and Space in C19 Orphan Fiction”, in Laura Peters and Diane Warren (eds.), Rereading Orphanhood: Texts, Inheritance, Kin, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2020, pp186 – 205.
- “Spatiality in Fantasy for Children”, in Maria Nikolajeva and Clementine Beauvais (eds.), Edinburgh Companion to Children's Literature, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2018, pp55 – 69.
School of English
Telephone: +353 01 896 4023