Mara Mandradjieff

Current Employers: Emory University, Kennesaw State University, and Lume Foundation, Inc.

The Children's Literature Program is unique and important due to its texts: children's literature. This material seems nonchalant and innocent, yet it is some of the most influential, memorable, and commercialized literature produced, and therefore, in need of academic attention. The program's curriculum challenges students to investigate societal constructions of childhood and youth through literary criticism. This process not only enlightens the students on a topical level of what are our beliefs surrounding childhood/youth, but also on a broader theoretical level. In other words, these courses take dense academic theories and make them accessible and translatable to other classes. For example, still to this day, when I think of Foucault's Panopticon, I relate it to the young adult book Ender's Game, and it makes perfect sense.

The Children's Literature Program truly paved my future career path and encouraged my intellectual growth as an undergraduate. I came to college after seriously pursuing a professional ballet career and was desperately searching for a new and equal passion. It was Dr. Gubar's "Children and Culture" course that changed my life and my college major. This course ignited my love for critical analysis and cultural studies, and later, the program's writing contests pushed me to develop my scholarly writing skills. I became an English Literature major and later an English teacher. Currently, as a professor, I remember these eye-opening experiences and strive to enrich my students in a similar fashion. I am sincerely grateful to have experienced the Children's Literature Program and all of its inspiring professors.