Tony Watkins lectured on Children’s Literature in many parts of the world including the USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Spain and Russia as well as the UK. Tony sadly passed away on 23-12-2017 after a long illness. We remember him with gratitude and love.
Tony’s publications in the field include:
articles in W. Parsons & R. Goodwin (eds) Landscape and Identity: Perspectives from Australia, 1994
in Maria Nikolajeva (ed.) Aspects and Issues in the History of Children’s Literature, 1995
in Peter Hunt (ed.) Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History, 1995
two articles in Peter Hunt (ed.)The International Companion Encyclopaedia of Children’s Literature, 1996
the editing and introducing (with Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and Catriona Nicholson) of the January 1999 volume (23.1) of The Lion and the Unicorn on ‘Contemporary British Children’s Literature’
the co-editing (with Dudley Jones) of a collection of essays entitled ‘A Necessary Fantasy?’: The Heroic Figure in Children’s Popular Culture, Garland Press, New York, 2000.
His other research interests included the representations of space (particularly landscape) and time in children’s literature and their relationship to myths of cultural and national identity.
CIRCL was very sad to announce the passing away on 23-12-2017, after a long illness, of Mr Tony Watkins, the founder of CIRCL and the M(Res) in Children’s Literature.
Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein writes:
I first met Tony Watkins in the early 1990s at a children’s literature conference in Oxford, little imagining that I would be able to join him as a colleague at Reading just a few years later in 1995, when I was appointed as a junior lecturer here. Tony had founded the MA in Children’s Literature in 1984 at the then School of Education at Bulmershe as the first MA in the field to be accredited as a masters degree in literature, rather than in education or librarianship studies (as is still mostly the case world-wide). Tony’s own teaching and research interests were in Cultural Studies, and he was a great admirer of Professor Stuart Hall, the founder of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies. Tony was therefore one of the first and main academics to introduce childhood and children’s literature to cultural studies and vice versa. Tony was a wonderful and much-loved teacher, who was known always to ask the most penetrating and crucial questions in the most modest and unassuming ways. At every conference, workshop or presentation those of us who knew him well would wait for the ‘Tony question’ to raise the most important problem or issue. Tony was a great believer in and supporter of the true concept of ‘community’ and his generosity in including absolutely everyone who wished to engage in thinking and learning was remarkable. Tony taught across the world, including spending considerable time as a Visiting Lecturer at the Children’s Literature Research Institute in Osaka, Japan, for instance, and was also a regular teacher at Children’s Literature summer schools in the USA. In 1996 Tony also founded CIRCL: The Centre (now Graduate Centre) for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, Media, which runs the MA and PhD programmes in Children’s Literature in the department as well as fostering international research in these areas. Both the MA (now M(Res)) in Children’s Literature and CIRCL continue to flourish and I still regularly speak to international scholars who remember Tony and his teaching and research as a major influence and remember him personally with great warmth. Every year since Tony’s formal retirement in 2003 the department has commemorated his achievements with the Tony Watkins Annual Lecture. In 2018, the lecture is due to be given by the Belgian Critical Psychologist Dr Jan De Vos, on how children are construed as subjects in modernity, on May 3rd 2018 at 6 pm in Edith Morley Building room 44. It will be an especial occasion to remember Tony together at this University too.
'I gained much more than I had expected from the MA. The course was not just about children's literature; it led me to reconsider the way I read, think, and argue. It prepared me for my PhD research and had an influence on my whole life. I can sincerely say that the MA in Children's Literature at Reading is worth attending, even if you need to travel all the way from the other side of the earth (which is more or less what I did, as an international student).'Yuko Ashitagawa, CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2002-5
My one year’s visit in CIRCL is the most rewarding academic experience that I have ever had. I found the [M(Res.)] seminars very stimulating. With “positive reinforcement”, all the participants are encouraged and involved. I am always encouraged and inspired by the discussions that were held in the seminars, which are though-provoking and very interactive, heated sometimes yet always in a very pleasant and harmonious atmosphere. I am greatly indebted to Karin, Neil and Sue for their wonder...JIANG Jianli (Tina), Associate Professor, Qingdao Technological University, China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow 2016-17
The [M(Res)] seminars I attended in CIRCL during my one year’s visit are always inspiring and profound, which have greatly improved my research skills and changed my mindset for doing research in children’s literature. The seminars taught me to find the perspectives in the text we analysed and develop my own judgment, which is the most challenging yet most rewarding thing in doing research. From my own experience as a teacher, such seminars are most effective in forging critical and indepe...XU Derong (David), Associate Professor, Ocean University of China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow, 2016-17
'My undergraduate degree was English Literature with Education Studies at the University of Cambridge and as part of that course I took a module in Children's Literature and absolutely loved it. I therefore decided to research MA courses so that I could further develop my interest. I was advised by my tutors at Cambridge that the most rigorous course was the one offered by the University of Reading and I was thrilled to be offered a place. During the MA the tutors were friendly and support...Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe), CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2005
Sara Zadrozny (then: Sara Broad), CIRCL MA 2003-4
Dr Haiya Dong, CIRCL Visiting Scholar 2018-19 Interview
Lisa Stallard, CIRCL MA 2011-12
"My masters with CIRCL has increased my confidence and my critical thinking skills monumentally. At the conclusion of this course and with the support of the lecturers and my course mates I now work for an academic publisher in a senior role of Marketing Manager. Not only is CIRCL an academic challenge, but it is also a community, as a part time student I have been able to meet two cohorts of students, both of which have had incredible, individual and inspiring individuals within. The cour...Katy Corderoy, MA 2017-19
'The Reading MA in Children's Literature was a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. The course is intellectually demanding and wide-ranging in its approach to the field of children's literature and its cultural context. Though it focuses on the child in literature it is not restrictive. Many of the issues raised during the course of study are pertinent to all kinds of literature. There are ample opportunities for students to engage in discussion and to make their own con...Hilary Fraser, CIRCL MA 1999-2000, CIRCL PhD 2009
'With great support from the tutors and friends I have had a wonderful year in exploring and reconsidering the way I have been thinking all my life. In many ways it is my personal journey during which I have learnt a lot, not only about how to (or not to) find an answer but also about how to raise a question. As an international student I would like to say that the MA is very challenging, yet very liberating.'Sireethorn (Pam) Simawathna, CIRCL MA 2012-13
'Studying the MA in Children's Literature was an excellent introduction to and preparation for academic practice and further research as it provided me with an opportunity to engage in discussions surrounding the issues addressed by current researchers during CIRCL seminars in a nurturing and supportive environment.'Catrin Edwards, CIRCL MA 2006-7, CIRCL PhD 2010
'I was nervous doing the course as a part-time student as I worried that I may be at a disadvantage. This was definitely not the case. The course is structured so well, and the support I received from [the MA staff] Karin, Neil and Sue (as well as the other students over both years) ensured that I was given the same opportunities, guidance and experience as everyone else. I have really enjoyed this degree and I can see that it has changed the way I think. I would recommend it to anyone who...Samantha Horsfield, CIRCL MA 2011-13 (part-time)
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Always challenging, the course approached and encouraged me to deal with many issues in a rigorously academic way. The work on the course was always innovative and now I can see how the course changed the way I can think about problems and solutions in both academic and non-academic contexts. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to deal with their own and other’s assumptions in a thoughtful and explorative way."Christopher Johnson, CIRCL MA 2015-2016