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Picture-Book Professors
Academia and Children's Literature

Part of Elements in Publishing and Book Culture

  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108438452


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About the Authors
  • How is academia portrayed in children's literature? This Element ambitiously surveys fictional professors in texts marketed towards children. Professors are overwhelmingly white and male, tending to be elderly scientists who fall into three stereotypes: the vehicle to explain scientific facts, the baffled genius, and the evil madman. By the late twentieth century, the stereotype of the male, mad, muddlehead, called Professor SomethingDumb, is formed in humorous yet pejorative fashion. This Element provides a publishing history of the role of academics in children's literature, questioning the book culture which promotes the enforcement of stereotypes regarding intellectual expertise in children's media. The Element is also available, with additional material, as Open Access.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'To the ranks of marginalized populations historically stereotyped in children's literature Terras adds one that has been hitherto sadly overlooked: the academician … [Terras] description of her methodology and findings has much to offer children's-literature researchers … readers will find themselves admiring her diligence in submitting such characters as Doctor Sock, Professor Nut, and Professor Mudweed to close textual reading.' Kirkus Reviews

    'Terras's research and corpus is pretty vast and amazing … I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading academic books or anyone who's interested in learning more about the stereotypes in children's literature.' Chris Hayden, San Francisco Book Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108438452
    • dimensions: 178 x 127 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.197kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Related research: representation, vocation, and higher education
    3. Research methodology
    4. An analysis of academics in children's illustrated literature
    5. Pedagogical, baffled, or mad: the stereotype of academics as plaything
    6. Conclusion
    Appendix A. Children's books included in the analysis
    Appendix B. Academics identified in children's literature, listed chronologically
    Appendix C. Potential books identified (but unavailable).

  • Author

    Melissa M. Terras, University of Edinburgh

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