Elizabeth Hoiem

Photo of Elizabeth Hoiem

Assistant Professor

PhD, English, Illinois

234 LIS
hoiem [at] illinois.edu

Office Hours

By appointment

Research Focus

Children's literature and material culture, British literature, history of education and literacy, social history, child labor, thing theory, fantasy, science fiction, science and technology in literature, automata, digital humanities pedagogy.


Elizabeth Hoiem joined the iSchool faculty as an assistant professor in 2014. She teaches in the areas of children's literature, history of children's literature, reading and literacy, and fantasy literature. In her research and teaching, she explores the history of technological innovations in children's literature—from early children's books and toys to contemporary applications of digital pedagogy—and looks at modern technology through a historical lens. In addition to literature and the history of literature, Hoiem's research interests include digital humanities pedagogy.

Her current book project, The Education of Things: Mechanical Literacy in British Children's Literature, 1762-1860 investigates the class politics behind learning through work and play. Her most recent article, "The Literature of Child Workers," locates an overlooked Radical working-class tradition of writing for children, including broadsides, protest songs, prayers for shorter work hours, hat banners, and Radical journalism. Another article-in-progress, "The Politics of How Things Are Made," investigates production stories [a nonfiction cousin to it-narratives: eg. Amelia Alderson Opie's The Progress of Sugar (1826), Clara Hollos's The Story of Your Coat (1946), Ramin Ganeshram's A Birthday Cake for George Washington (2015)], and asks how these stories pose or elide ethical questions about who makes things, under what conditions, and for whom.

Hoiem received bachelor's degrees in English and communication design from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, in 2002. She received an MA in literary and cultural studies from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004 and a PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013. Prior to joining the iSchool faculty, Hoiem was an assistant professor at East Carolina University.

Research Projects

The Education of Things: Mechanical Literacies in British Culture (1760-1860)

This project examines writers who represent education as an embodied experience, with learning and literacy grounded in what they called “object learning” or “the education of things.” Denouncing rote-learning in favor of an induction method, object lessons promised to coordinate the development of body and mind by using the pupil’s senses as a catalyst for higher cognitive thought.

Related Topics

Digital Humanities, Diversity and Social Justice, History of Information, Youth Literature, Culture, and Services