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See the project @wethehumanities by former CIRCL PhD students Dr Krissie West and Dr Jess Medhurst!

Please note that the Government has approved a new scheme of MA and PhD study loans under favourable terms! See:

CIRCL Seminars

January 31st 2018, 1 pm in room Edith Morley 110: Mrs Sara Zadrozny, former CIRCL BA and MA student, current PhD student at Portsmouth University, will be giving a CIRCL seminar on ‘Skin memory and ageing women in the Victorian Gothic’. All welcome!

CIRCL Visiting Fellows

CIRCL has a very long-standing history of being frequently delighted and honoured to welcome CIRCL Visiting Fellows from all over the world! CIRCL Visiting Fellows are academics who come to stay with us for any period of time from one-day-visits to one-term-stays to more than one year to discuss their research with CIRCL staff and/ or attend our research seminars and M(Res) in Children’s Literature seminars.

In 2016-7 we are delighted to have (had) visiting with us Xu Dan, Associate Professor of Literature, Zhejiang Normal University, China; Derong (David) Xu, Associate Professor and Associate Head, English Department, Ocean University of China; Jiang (Tina) Jianli, Senior Lecturer and Department Head College of Foreign Languages, Qingdao Technological University, China and Zhu Limin  from the College of Humanities, Zhejiang Normal University, China.

For further information about applying for a CIRCL Visiting Fellowship please contact Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein (

Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein with Academic Visiting Fellow Derong (David) Xu, Associate Professor from Ocean University, China (2016-17)

Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein with Academic Visiting Fellow, Jiang Jianli (Tina), Qingdao Technological University, China (2016-17)

Other News and Events

CIRCL are 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.

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 February 27th 2018, at 6 pm (venue to be decided). It will be an especial occasion to remember Tony together at this University too.

Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein

Please see for a list of past MA dissertations from the CIRCL MA our MA Dissertations page.

CIRCL’s Dr Neil Cocks has a new book out! Higher Education Discourse and Deconstruction: Challenging the case for Transparency and Objecthood, Palgrave Critical University Studies (Palgrave, 2017).

We were honoured to welcome for a visit and CIRCL research seminar on 7th December 2016, Professor Zhu Ziqiang, Professor of the College of Literature & Journalism of Ocean University of China and Head of the Children Literature Institute, who spoke about Key Issues in Contemporary Chinese Children’s Literature Theories. 

Professor Zhu, Director of the Centre for Children's Literature, Ocean University, China, with Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, December 2016

Professor Zhu, Director of the Centre for Children’s Literature, Ocean University, China, with Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, December 2016

Many congratulations to Dr Krissie West! Krissie passed her PhD viva on 10-05-2016 with her thesis”To be boy eternal”: Locating the Child in the Literature and Criticism of Ralph Waldo Emerson. External Examiner: Professor Peter Buse (Kingston University), Internal Examiner: Professor Peter Stoneley!

Many congratulations to Dr Chris Milson! Chris passed his PhD viva on 11-03-2016 with his thesis On Translation: Reading, Representation, and the Desire to Know. External Examiner: Dr Hannah Anglin-Jaffe (University of Exeter), Internal Examiner: Dr Neil Cocks.

Published by Palgrave publishers in 2015 CIRCL’s new volume, edited, introduced and first chapter by Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and including chapters by other CIRCL members including Dr Sue Walsh and Dr Neil CocksRethinking Disability Theory and Practice: Challenging Essentialism.

CIRCL PhD student Krissie West was nominated as FAHSS Faculty PhD Researcher of the Year for 2014-15 for her research on childhood in the work of the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson! Congratulations, Krissie!

CIRCL Korea came to visit CIRCL Reading again, July 2014! Now for a three-day CIRCL Summer School on Children’s Literature.

Former CIRCL PhD student Dr Jess Medhurst (supervisor: Dr Neil Cocks) won the University’s three-minute thesis competition on June 14th 2013 with her presentation on her research on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books, including work on Carroll’s photography and archival material! The University’s Graduate School writes about the competition:

“The Three Minute Thesis Competition invites Reading PhD students to engage, inspire and entertain an academic audience (delegates to the PhD Research Conference) with a summary of their PhD research. The ability to present your research in a clear and coherent manner to an audience who know little, or nothing, about your area of study is an important skill all PhD students need to develop As well as showcasing the variety of doctoral research taking place at Reading, we hope this competition will encourage PhD students to reflect on how they communicate their research to those outside their particular field or discipline.” Many congratulations, Jess!
See for further information:

CIRCL Korea visits University of Reading, July 7th 2010! Professor So-Jin Park (CIRCL MA graduate) and a group of her children’s literature project students from Sookmyung University in Seoul, Korea, visited Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein for an interview about approaches to children’s literature and the children’s literature teaching curriculum at CIRCL.

[meeting Karin and So-Jin photo]

Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and Professor Park (photo courtesy Eunbyul Ahn)

Karin was awarded the Faculty Student Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning 2010 on 1st July 2010. A further University RUSU award for Outstanding Contributions as Personal Tutor was made in 2015.

[teaching award Karin photo]

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