Elizabeth Hoiem

Assistant Professor

PhD, English, Illinois

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.

Honors and Awards

  • Children’s Literature Association's Judith Plotz Emerging Scholar Award (2019) for "Radical Cross-Writing for Working Children: Toward a Bottom-Up History of Children’s Literature." The Lion and the Unicorn 41, no.1 (January 2017): 1-27. 
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), 12 month fellowship, $50,400, 2018-19.
  • Humanities Released Time (HRT), Campus Research Board, University of Illinois, Spring 2018.
  • Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), Graduate Student Fellow (UIUC), 2010-11.
  • Friends of the Princeton University Library Research Grant, summer 2010.


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 Literacies in British Children's Literature, 1760-1860, supported by an NEH fellowship, investigates the class politics of learning with objects. Hoiem uses the term "mechanical literacy" to describe the convergence of alphabetical and manual literacies associated with social mobility in the industrial era. Her award-winning article, "Radical Cross-Writing for Working Children," 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. Other recent articles explore children’s nonfiction about science and technology. "A Child-Centered Universe" argues that nineteenth-century children's nonfiction was organized according to children's cognitive development and spatial orientation. "The Progress of Sugar" investigates representations of slavery in production stories (a genre that includes David Macaulay's Cathedral and Clara Hollos's The Story of Your Coat (1946)) and asks how these stories inform children 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.

Office hours

Mondays 3:30-4:00pm, Wednesdays 9:30-10:00pm, Thursdays 8:30-9:30pm virtual or by appointment

Publications & Papers

"The Progress of Sugar: Consumption as Complicity in Children’s Books about Slavery and Manufacturing, 1790-2015." Children's Literature in Education, forthcoming.

"A Child-Centered Universe: Growth and Development in Nineteenth-Century Children’s Nonfiction." The Companion to Children’s Literature. Karen Coats and Deborah Stevenson, eds. Wiley Press, forthcoming.

"From Philosophical Experiment to Adventure Fiction: English Adaptations of French Robinsonades and the Politics of Genre." Children’s Literature (2018).

Tracy, Daniel G. and Elizabeth Massa Hoiem. “Scaffolding and Play Approaches to Digital Humanities Pedagogy:
 Assessment and Iteration in Topically-Driven Courses.Digital Humanities Quarterly 11, no. 4 (2017).

"Radical Cross-Writing for Working Children: Toward a Bottom-Up History of Children’s Literature." The Lion and the Unicorn 41, no.1 (January 2017): 1-27.

Hoiem, Elizabeth Fabry Massa. "Object Lessons: Technologies of Education in British Literature, 1762–1851." PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013. ProQuest (3614602).

"World Creation as Colonization: British Imperialism in 'Aldarion and Erendis.'" Tolkien Studies 2 (Spring 2005): 75-92.


"Fair Trade for Children: Ethical Cooperation and Exchange in the Children’s Literature of Maria Edgeworth, Isaac Taylor, Jane Marcet, and the 19thC Cooperative Movement." Children's Literature Association (ChLA), IUPUI & IU East, Indianapolis, IN, June 2019.

"Conducting Research in Historical Archives and Special Collections." Early Children’s Literature Scholars Event at Children’s Literature Association (ChLA), IUPUI & IU East, Indianapolis, IN, June 2019.

"The Child-Centered Universe of Nineteenth-Century Children's Nonfiction." Children’s Literature Association (ChLA), Texas State University, San Antonio, TX, June 2018.

"The Politics of How Things Are Made: Representations of Slavery and Labor in Children’s Histories of Technology." ChLA, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, June 2017.

"Teaching Digital Humanities Tools at a Distance: A Librarian-Instructor Partnership Integrating Scalar into a Graduate Distance Course." Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Baltimore, MD, March 2017.

"Engaging the Public through Digital Publishing." Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), Atlanta, GA, January 2017.

"Reading Objects, Reading books: The Mechanical Literacies of Industrial Britain," ChLA, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, June 2016.

"'Naughty full-grown babes': Children's Literature and the Radical Press, 1816-1836." ChLA, Longwood University, Farmville, VA, June 2015.

"British Industrial Labor Movements and the Origins of Modern Adolescence," Landscapes of Childhood II, The University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, April 2015.

"Chartist Children: Rethinking our middle-class definitions of play and work in early children's literature," ChLA, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, June 2014.

"Sensible Signs: Object Lessons, Victorian Education, and the Great Exhibition of 1851," North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA), London, Ontario, Canada, November 2014.

"Children of the Steam Engine: Industrialization in Books and Toys for Young Victorians," ChLA, University of Southern Mississippi, Biloxi, MS, June 2013.