An MA in children’s literature? What’s that all about then…
The lovely Laura Atkins has posted a little something on her blog about the MA in Children’s Literature we did together at Roehampton University and to anyone thinking of furthering their education in this area or just wanting to indulge a passion for children’s books in a new way, I would urge you to go and have a look at her post.
Laura is a part-time lecturer at Roehampton (among many other things), and gives great insight into the programme and the wonderful relationships and opportunities it can give you.
My experience is this. I carried out the course part-time over two years while I worked the hours of a five day week job crammed into three and a half days in order for me to attend lectures, study and write. It was a tough two years definitely and I don’t remember going out very much, but it was so worth it. Plus I had the fortune of working round the corner from an enormous Waterstones so lunch breaks were spent in the children’s section or drinking coffee in the cafe to keep me awake!
I studied Critical Theory and Perspectives, Visual Texts, British Children’s Literature 1900-1960 and many other modules. I managed to wrangle my passion for true crime into an essay about Columbine and Robert Cormier and I wrote my dissertation on theories of intertextuality in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I even went to Berlin under my own steam, dragging the other half along for company, in order to further my understanding of German Expressionist cinema with particular reference to The Cabinet of Dr Caligari which appears I think, in book the tenth or eleventh in ASOUE – this was for my Critical Theory and Perspectives module. My BA was in film so combining two passions in one was marvelous!
Since then, my MA has given me my career, a total understanding of what it means to work hard for something you are passionate about and a love of children’s books that will last with me always.
It’s also given me some lovely friendships. During the course I met Emily Ford and it was Emily who got me my job at Puffin. She was leaving her role as PA to MD Francesca Dow and needed someone to replace her. Three interviews and a couple of new outfits and ill-fitting shoes later and the job was mine. Then Walker Books, then starting my own business and wonderful clients like Booktrust, Book Aid International, Maverick Books and Write Away among others (oh, and I had a baby during this time too!). None of which would have happened without the MA. Emily’s now a super duper senior editor of Children’s Picture Books at MacMillan.
Laura also mentions in her post that it was actually way back in 2001 that we all did our Masters together which shocked me. I still think about my course regularly with regards to my work and also when reading and playing with Milo. Recently I read an article about theories of creativity and children which mentioned Jean Piaget who I studied while at Roehampton.
This quote from the article is a little bit of an aside, but something I truly believe,
“There is a myth, common in American culture, that work and play are entirely separate activities. I believe they are more entwined than ever before. As the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget once said, “Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.” A playful mind thrives on ambiguity, complexity, and improvisation—the very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.”
I try and think about that a lot when I have my Milo days.
My MA certainly doesn’t feel like it was ten years ago (and I don’t feel that much older than I did then, but clearly I am – sob!). Take a look at it for yourself. It’s a brilliant and fun course to do with some incredible lecturers. And also, what other course can you do which offers you as your first experience of meeting your new friends and lecturers, a tea party and picnic on the lawns of Roehampton. With cake!