Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem has been named the 2019 recipient of the Judith Plotz Emerging Scholar Award, which is given annually by the Children's Literature Association (ChLA). The award recognizes an outstanding article of literary criticism by an early career scholar on the topic of children's literature within a given year.
Hoiem received the award for her article, "Radical Cross-Writing for Working Children: Toward a Bottom-up History of Children's Literature," which was published in The Lion and the Unicorn (vol. 41, no. 1). She will receive the award at the ChLA conference, which will be held June 13-15 in Indianapolis.
In her article, Hoiem challenges the accepted historical narrative of the emergence of children's literature as a middle-class genre. She examines texts such as political handbills and journals, which were affordable and circulated by working-class families. She suggests that scholars have thus far unwittingly eliminated from consideration those texts written for and embraced by Radical working-class readers.
"In my article, I argue that the way we have defined children's literature actually limits which historical voices we represent in the canon," Hoiem said. "In order to have a more diverse history of children's literature, one that includes voices from different classes, races, and genders, we need to define children's literature to include a wider variety of forms, subjects, and reading practices."
Patrick Fleming, assistant professor of English at Fisk University and member of the Judith Plotz Emerging Scholar Award committee, noted of Hoiem's work, "By bringing attention to texts used by children but not usually considered children's literature, Hoiem contributes to growing interests in childhood studies in the nineteenth century and beyond."
Hoiem teaches in the areas of reading and literacy, history of children's literature, 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. She received a 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her current book project, "The Education of Things: Mechanical Literacy in British Culture, 1752-1860." This project investigates the class politics of "object lessons," a mode of experiential learning that developed during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the rise in child labor and mass literacy. Her recent articles are published in The Lion and the Unicorn and Children's Literature. Hoiem holds a PhD in English from Illinois.