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    The Great Puzzle: Issues of self-identity in Carroll's Wonderland

    Earlier this year, Jen Harrison at East Stroudsburg University, asked me to write a Guest Post on her blog, The Worrisome Words. Here's a link to my post "The Great Puzzle: Issues of Self-identity in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

    Thanks Professor Harrison for publishing my essay on a question Alice asks, "Who in the world am I?"


    Reading To Kill a Mockingbird from a Southern guy's view

    Just wanted to share that my essay, "Alabama Bound: Reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird While Southern" has recently been published in The Southern Quarterly. Here is a link to a .pdf reprint.

    I have taught To Kill a Mockingbird for years so I was pleased to be asked to write about the book and growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. My family moved there from the Chicago suburbs when I was nine. In the essay, I write about my experience as a Northern boy learning how to live in the South and how To Kill a Mockingbird informed my understanding of Alabama. I weave in references to President Obama, Drive-by Truckers, George Wallace, the Birmingham Library, the WPA's Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (1941), my childhood confusion on segregated water fountains at the Birmingham Zoo, and one of my favorite professors when I was a student at Samford University, Wayne Flynt.  I'm glad Mark West asked me to write this essay.

    Thanks for checking out the essay.





    Remembering Morton Cohen

     I was saddened to learn of the passing of Morton Cohen at age 96 who obituary is in The New York Times. Cohen was the premiere Lewis Carroll scholar. He edited the two-volume The Letters of Lewis Carroll, with assistance from Roger Lancelyn Green, which was published in 1979. Cohen's Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1995, is the definitive biography on the Victorian author, photographer, and mathematician. 

    Cohen was a classic researcher and scholar. While Cohen published many works on Carroll, the edited Letters and the biography form the basis for serious Lewis Carroll scholarship. 

    I was fortunate to meet Cohen on several occassions through the meetings of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. He was formal,  but friendly. He seemed be a man steeped in Victorian culture. 

    Cohen was also well known for significant work on H. Rider Haggard.

    After a lifetime of researching Lewis Carroll, Cohen wrote his definitive Lewis Carroll: A Biography. Click here or on the title to a link of a .pdf of my book review of Cohen's biography: "On a First-Name Basis with Charles Lutwidge Dodgson" published in Children's Literature 26. 


    CFP for 2018 MLA 4H: History, Hamilton, & Hip hop in High School

    Here's the paper call for the session I'm chairing at MLA in 2018.

    CFP for 2018 MLA

    4H:History, Hamilton, & Hip hop in High School

    2018 MLA Conference, New York City, January 4-7, 2018

    Session sponsored by MLA’s Children & Young Adult Literature Forum

    This session will examine the range of innovative informational texts and historical fictions that introduce young adult readers to significant events and figures in American history and culture in innovative formats. The session will consider creative texts that move beyond the traditional, and sometimes dull textbook approach, to reimagine American history and attempt to reach young adult readers/viewers in nontraditional ways. Possible texts might include, but are not limited to, the cast recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton; John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s March trilogy; Kate Schatz’s Rad American Women A-Z; Don Brown’s Drowned City; Carole Boston Weatherford’s Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer; Derek Waters’s Drunk History; and John and Hank Green’s Crash Course YouTube Channel. The session will appraise the multiple methods that contemporary writers and illustrators are using to present and represent American history and culture in inventive, but accurate, ways that will resonate with contemporary young adults.

    Send 250-word abstract by March 10, 2017 to Jan Susina ( . In order to participate in this session, you need to be a member of MLA by April 7, 2017.

    Jan Susina

    Professor of English

    English Department

    Illinois State University


    Freedom to Read: Banned Book Reading Sept. 28 at ISU