Children's Literature and the Digital 

From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Where the Wild Things Are to Harry Potter, children’s literature has proven itself a site for imaginative play and experimentation. Authors such as Lewis Carroll, Maurice Sendak, and J.K. Rowling have conjured up fanciful worlds featuring mad hatters and talking caterpillars, yellow-eyed monsters with a proclivity for rumpusing, and young wizards donning invisible cloaks to thwart evil schemes. For this reason, children’s literature scholars Nancy Johnson and Cyndi Giorgis assert that this literature is uniquely able “to propel readers back and forth in time and place, relate the familiar to the unfamiliar, and ponder never-before-considered possibilities.” In the digital age, children’s literature continues to stand out as a site for imaginative experimentation. With the emergence and affordances of new digital platforms alongside traditional print ones, however, we are witnessing increasingly fascinating changes in its appearance, format, and distribution. Within children’s literature and digital humanities scholarship alike, examination of the intersection of children’s literature and the digital is therefore in order. “Children’s Literature and the Digital” will support a yearlong series of conversations, a workshop, a student competition in making children’s literature, and a visual exhibition. This Common Experience grant would serve to explore and make visible to the SDSU community the connections between Children’s Literature and Digital Humanities, which often are seen has having little in common but which both center around imagination-- imagination as not only historically-informed and impacted, but also enabled in part by the media we have and use.

Exploring the intersection of Children’s Literature and the Digital, we seek to promote creative- critical thinking and to illuminate the efforts of SDSU faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in exploring both fields of study and creation. The programming is intended to provide a venue for probing intersections between these fields specifically and scholarship and creation more generally for the benefit of students studying literature, writing, publishing, art, and more so that they can see the connections not only between two academic subfields but, more importantly, between making and critique, literature and life, and print and digital media.

This program will also include and showcase the SDSU library, which has 31,603 volumes of children’s literature in the collection (1,191 of which are in the Edward Gorey Personal Library) and a large collection of books, including 969 non-English volumes, 798 of which are Spanish language and Spanish/L2 bilingual books; 1,191 of these volumes are in the Edward Gorey Personal Library. 

This series builds upon two areas of research in literary studies at SDSU, Children’s Literature and Digital Humanities, bringing their intersection to a wide audience beyond the English and Comparative Literature Department. The National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the United States. With their diverse research and teaching interests, NCSCL faculty offer diverse courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Digital Humanities Initiative is a cross-campus effort to stimulate and strengthen the study of digital technologies and culture, the use of computational practices in research and teaching, and the reflection of impacts of the digital by providing a hub for strategic innovation and collaboration. This partnership between Children’s Literature and Digital Humanities will interest students and faculty across campus through the focal point of imagination.


Student Competition in making Children's Literature, with end-of-the-year showcase in Library in May

Isabel Quintero

Public lecture by acclaimed author Isabel Quintero. Ms. Quintero’s debut YA novel, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces (2014), has garnered numerous awards, including the Tomás Rivera Book Award, the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, and the California Book Award. She has recently published a children’s picture book titled Ugly Cat & Pablo (2017). 

Date & Time: November 28th, 2017 @ 3:30 pm (location TBA) 

Staff Bios

Phillip Serrato

Phillip Serrato is Associate Professor of English & Comparative Literature. His teaching and research interests include children’s & young adult literature, Chicanx literary & cultural studies, and gothic & horror studies.

Jessica Pressman

Jessica Pressman is Associate Professor of English & Comparative Literature and Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative ( Her teaching and research interests include 20th and 21st-century experimental literature, electronic literature, modernism, media studies, and the history of the book.

Event Details:

Topic: Children’s Literature and the Digital

Dates: TBA

Location: TBA

Faculty Sponsors: 
Phillip Serrato Associate Professor and Undergraduate Director Department of English & Comparative Literature

Jessica Pressman Associate Professor Department of English & Comparative Literature 

Affiliated Courses: 
ED 895, ENGL 220, ENGL 250B, ENGL 280, ENGL 306A, ENGL 306W, ENGL 308W, ENGL 401, ENGL 494, ENGL 501, ENGL 503, ENGL 525, ENGL 563, ENGL 579, TE (Credential) 530, TE (Credential) 640


Roundtable panel of scholarly lightning talks by SDSU faculty and graduate students who specialize in Children’s Literature: Professors Phillip Serrato, Joseph Thomas (Director of National Center for Study of Children’s Literature), and new faculty member Angel Matos with selected MA students.

Date & Time: TBA

Mark Marino

Mark C. Marino Public lecture and workshop in making digital Children’s Literature by Mark C. Marino, Associate Professor (Teaching) at the University of Southern California, scholar of electronic literature, and director of the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab at USC. He is a writer of born-digital interactive children’s stories, including Mrs. Wobbles and the Tangerine House. His complete portfolio is here: