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Michelle Abate

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Associate Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning

Program Area: Literature for Children and Young Adults

(614) 292-4405
abate.30@osu.edu

Biography

Michelle Ann Abate is Associate Professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults.  

She is the author of four books of literary criticism: The Big Smallness: Niche Marketing, the American Culture Wars, and the New Children's Literature (Routledge, 2016); Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children's Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), Raising Your Kids Right: Children’s Literature and American Political Conservatism (Rutgers University Press, 2010), and Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History (Temple University Press, 2008).   

Michelle is also the co-editor of four books of critical essays: Graphic Novels for Young Readers: A Collection of Critical Essays, with Gwen Athene Tarbox (University Press of Mississippi, 2017); C. S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia Casebook, with Lance Weldy (Palgrave, 2012); Global Perspectives on Tarzan: From King of the Jungle to International Icon, with Annette Wannamaker (Routledge, 2011), Over the Rainbow: Queer Children's and Young Adult Literature, with Kenneth B. Kidd (University of Michigan Press, 2010).

In addition, Michelle has published critical essays on a wide range of topics, including The Muppet Show, Fun Home, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Outsiders, The Hunger Games, The Boxcar Children, Where the Wild Things Are, Little Women, Caddie Woodlawn, “Snow White,” the Left Behind novels for kids, and the genres of lesbian pulp fiction and young adult novels.

In recent years, Michelle's work has been discussed in The Boston Globe, she has been a featured guest on NPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, and she has written invited opinion pieces for The New York Times about current trends in young adult fiction. Michelle's book Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History was a finalist for the national Lambda Literary Awards in the category of LGBTQ Studies.

Education

  • PhD, English, Graduate School and University Center of the City, University of New York, New York, 2004
    • Certificate in Women’s Studies
  • MPhil, English, Graduate School and University Center of the City, University of New York, New York, 2001
  • BA, English, Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, 1997

Experience

  • 2013-Present: Associate Professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults, The Ohio State University
    • Department of Teaching and Learning
    • Department of English (Courtesy Appointment)
    • Affiliated Faculty with Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • 2010-2013: Associate Professor of English, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia.
    • Faculty Member in the M.A./M.F.A. Program in Children’s Literature
    • Affiliated Faculty with Gender and Women’s Studies Program
  • 2004-2010: Assistant Professor of English, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia.
  • 2011-2013: Editor, Children’s Literature, annual of the Modern Language Association and the Children’s Literature Association, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • 2013: Application Reviewer, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grants. 
  • 2012-2014: Editorial Board, invited member, The Journal of Lesbian Studies (Taylor & Francis Publishers).
  • 2011: Guest Editor and Introduction, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, special issue on tomboys and tomboyism.  15.4  (2011). 
  • 2010-2013: Executive Board, Elected Position, Children’s Literature Association (ChLA)
  • 2010: Guest, Editor and Introduction, The Lion and the Unicorn, special themed issue on L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of  Green Gables 34.2  (April 2010). 
  • 2008-2010: Co-Editor, Children’s Literature, annual of the Modern Language Association and the Children’s Literature Association, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • 2004-2008: Assistant Editor, Children’s Literature, annual of the Modern Language Association And the Children’s Literature Association, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • 2006-2010: Editor, Emerging Scholars and New Voices section, The Looking Glass:  New Perspectives on Children’s Literature, an independent electronic journal founded in 1997 by the Toronto Centre for the Study of Children's Literature (TCSCL), then housed at the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, now at York University.  http://www.the-looking-glass.net/

Honors

  • 2009, Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award, Hollins University.

Grants

  • 2016, Summer Repository Research Fellowship, Indiana University, Institute for Advanced Study
  • 2014, Faculty Research Grant, Children's Literature Association
  • 2010, Cabell Grant (competitive monetary award given to support sabbatical travel and research), Hollins University
  • 2009, Faculty Research Grant, Children’s Literature Association
  • 2005-2011, Faculty Travel and Research Grant, Hollins University

Presentations

  • 2017, “Equal Parts Timely as Timeless: Dr. Seuss’s You’re Only Old Once!, the 1980s, and the AIDS Epidemic.” Children’s Literature Association Conference. Tampa, Florida. June 22-24.
  • 2017, “‘You are Een the House of Sanjak!’: Terry and the Pirates, the First Lesbian Character in U.S. Comics, and the Roots of Wonder Woman.”  American Literature Association Conference. Boston, MA., May 25-27.
  • 2017, “Adultescents, Kidaults, and Rejuveniles: Children’s Literature for Adults and Remapping the Boundaries of Age and Audience.”  Panel Session:  “Adolescence.”  Modern Language Association Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jan. 5-8.
  • 2017, “Post-Racial, But Not Post-Racism: The Romanticization of the Plantation South and the Whitewashing of History in Raina Telgemeier’s Drama.” Panel Session:  “I Die Daily: Police Brutality, Black Bodies, and the Force of Children’s Literature." Modern Language Association Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jan. 5-8.
  • 2016, Panel Chair, Session “International Interventions,” Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Oct. 13-15.
  • 2016, Panel Organizer and Chair: “The Verse Novel for Young Readers,” Modern Language Association Convention, Austin, Texas.  Jan. 7-10.
  • 2015, “Not Timeless, But Timely: Dr. Seuss’s You’re Only Old Once! and the AIDS Crisis.”  Midwest  Modern Language Association Conference, Columbus, Ohio Nov. 12-15.
  • 2015,  “‘From the Top, Stupid!’: The Li’l Tomboy Comic Book Series, Female Juvenile Delinquency, and the Comics Code.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Richmond,  Virginia.  June 18-20.
  • 2015, “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird: What to Expect when Co-editing a Collection of Critical Essays.”  Building a Career in Children’s Literature Panel.  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Richmond, Virginia.  June 18-20.
  • 2015, “ ‘Off With Their Heads!’: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the Anti-Gallows Movement.” Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  January 8th – 11th, 2015.
  • 2014, “The Boxcar Children and The Box-Car Children:  The Jazz Age Story Behind Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Classic Story,” National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Session: Research Roundtable 4 - Research Focused on Methods and Materials, Washington, D.C. November 20-25, 2014.
  • 2014, “ ‘Always Gettin’ in Trouble’: The Li’l Tomboy Comic Book Series, the Good Female Consumer, and the 1950s Bad Girl," International Comics Arts Forum.  The Ohio State University. November 13-15, 2014.
  • 2014, “The Biggest Loser:  Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter Series, the Queer Art of Failure, and the American Obsession with Youth Achievement,” Youth and/in Literature and Society Conference, New University of Lisbon. Lisbon, Portugal.  July 9-11, 2014.
  • 2014, “The American Urban Jungle:  Tarzan of the Apes and Chicago,” Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Chicago, IL.  Panel title:  Deliver Us from Normal—Children’s Literature and the Midwest.  January 9th – 12th, 2014.
  • 2013, “A Womb with a Political View:  Barbara Park’s MA! There’s Nothing to Do Here!, Prenatal Parenting and the Battle over Personhood.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  The University of Southern Mississippi.  Biloxi, MS.  June 13th – 15th, 2013. 
  • 2012, “The Big Smallness:  Niche Market Picture Books and the New Children’s Literature.” Annual Conference of The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).  Conference theme:  Beyond the Book.  Roehampton University.  London, England.  November 10th, 2012.
  • 2012, “No Kids Allowed:  The Littlest Bitch, Go the F**k to Sleep, and Misopedia.” Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Simmons College, Boston, MA  June 14th – 16th, 2012.
  • 2011, “ ‘The Tricky Reverse Narration That Impels Our Entwined Stories’:  Queer Temporalities in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.”  International Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels.  Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain.  November 10th – 12th, 2011.
  • 2011, “ ‘A Grand Amount of Fagginess’:  The Faggiest Vampire, Bizarro Fiction for Children, and the De-Homosexualization of LGBTQ Terminology.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Hollins University, Roanoke, VA.  June 23rd – 25th, 2011.
  • 2010, “Old Father, Old Artificer’:  Time, Memory, and Aging in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.” Modern Language Association Conference (MLA).  Panel Session: “Graphic Aging.”  Co-Sponsored by the Age Studies and Comics and Graphics Novels Discussion Groups.  Los Angeles, CA.  January 6th – 9th, 2011.
  • 2010, “ ‘Making Mischief of One Kind or Another’:  Turning Literary Rebellion into Filmic Reminiscence in Where the Wild Things Are.”  Mid-Atlantic Popular / American Culture Association Conference (MAPACA).  Alexandria, VA,  October 28th – 30th, 2010.
  • 2010, Session Chair and Panel Chair, “Writing a Biography of a Children’s Author:  Projects, Processes, and Problems.” Panelists:  Philip Nel (Kansas State University) on Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss; June Cummins (San Diego State University)on Sydney Taylor;  Michael Patrick Hearn (Simmons College) on L. Frank Baum. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI.  June 10th – 12th, 2010.
  • 2010, “Plastic Makes Perfect:  My Beautiful Mommy, Cosmetic Surgery, and the Medicalization of Motherhood.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI.  June 10th – 12th, 2010.
  • 2009, Session Chair and Panel Organizer:  “When Girls Will Be Boys:  Tomboyism in Children’s Literature and Childhood Culture,” Mid-Atlantic Popular / American Culture Association Annual Conference (MAP/ACA), Boston, MA.  November 5th – 7th, 2009. 2009    “Pundit Knows Best:  The Self-Help Boom, Brand Marketing, and The O’Reilly Factorfor Kids.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  University of North Carolina, Charlotte.  Charlotte, NC.  June 11 – 13th, 2009.
  • 2008, Session Chair and Panel Organizer, “Anne of Green Gables at 100,” Modern Language Association Annual Conference (MLA).  San Francisco, CA.  December 27th – 30th, 2008.
  • 2008, “A Sunday School for the End of the World:  The Left Behind – The Kids Series and The Battle for Young Adult Souls.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Illinois State University, Normal/Bloomington, IL.  June 12th – 15th, 2008.
  • 2008, “Bury My Heart in Recent History:  Mark Twain’s ‘Hellfire Hotchkiss,’ the Massacre at Wounded Knee, and the Dime Western Formula.”  Panel on “New Approaches to Mark Twain.”  Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Conference (NeMLA), Buffalo, NY. April 10th – 13th, 2008.
  • 2007, “From Lesbian Pulp Fiction to YA Novels and Back Again:  The Many Literary Genres (and Pen Names) of M. E. Kerr.”  Panel on “Jumping Between Audiences.” Modern Language Association Annual Conference (MLA), Chicago, IL.  December 27th – 30th, 2007.
  • 2007, “Becoming a ‘Red-Blooded’ American:  White Tomboyism and American Indian Tribalism in Carol Ryrie Brink’s Caddie Woodlawn.”  Children’s Literature Association Conference (ChLA).  Christopher Newport University.  Newport News, VA.  June 14 – 16th, 2007.
  • 2006, “Trans/Formations:  Sharon Dennis Wyeth’s Tomboy Trouble and Transgenderism in Contemporary Picture Books,” Children’s Literature Association Annual Conference (ChLA), Manhattan Beach, California, June 8 – 10th, 2006.
  • 2005, “Launching a Gender Backlash:  E. D. E. N. Southworth’s The Hidden Hand and the Emergence of American Tomboyism.”  Modern Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature (MCACL), Nashville, TN.  March 31 – April 2nd, 2005.

Selected Publications

Books:

  • The Big Smallness:  Niche Marketing, the American Culture Wars, and the New Children’s Literature. Routledge. Spring 2016.
  • Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children’s Literature.  Johns Hopkins University Press. February 2013.
  • Raising Your Kids Right:  Children’s Literature and American Political Conservatism. Rutgers University Press, 2010.
  • Tomboys:  A Literary and Cultural History.  Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.

Co-Edited Books

  • Graphic Novels for Young Readers: A Collection of Critical Essays. Co-edited with Gwen Athene Tarbox. University of Mississippi Press.  May 2017.
  • C. S. Lewis:  The Chronicles of Narnia CasebookCo-edited with Lance Weldy. Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2012.
  • Global Perspectives on Tarzan:  From King of the Jungle to International Icon. Co-edited with Annette Wannamaker. Routledge Press, 2012.
  • Over the Rainbow:  Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  Co-edited with Kenneth B. Kidd. University of Michigan Press, 2011. 

 Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (Selected)

  • “‘Springtime in the South is like a Song in my Heart’: Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, the Romanticization of the Plantation South, and the Romance Plot.”  Children’s Literature in Education, (2017).  In production.
  • “‘Soda Attracted Girls Like Honey Draws Flies’:  The Outsiders, The Boy Band Formula, and Adolescent Sexuality.”  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.  42.1 (Spring 2017): 43-64.
  • “From Battling Adult Authority to Battling the Opposite Sex: Little Lulu as Gag Panel and Comic Book.”  Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. 7.4  (2016):  381-402.
  • “‘The Tricky Reverse Narration that Impels Our Entwined Stories’:  Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Queer Temporalities.”  The ALAN Review. 43.4 (Fall 2016): 30-44.
  • “Not Hoovervilles, But Hooch:  Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children and The Roaring Twenties.”  Children’s Literature in Education.  47.3  (September 2016): 256-257. Discussed in “‘The Boxcar Children’ and the Spirit of Capitalism,” The New Yorker, by Jia Tolentino, 2 June 2016.
  • “‘There Is Something Very Different About This Book!’:  Mabel Maney’s The Case of the Not-So- Nice Nurse, The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, and Religion.” Literature and Theology. 30.2 (June 2016): 164-181.
  • “‘The Bombs Were Coming—And So Was I’: The Trauma of War and the Balm of Bibliotherapy in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.”  Red Feather: An International Journal of Children in Popular Culture. 7.1 (Spring 2016).
  • “Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers as Board Book: From the Matter of Materality to the Way that Materiality Matters.” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. 7.2  (Winter 2015): 40-64.
  • “‘The Capitol Accent is So Affected Almost Anything Sounds Funny in It’: The Hunger Games Trilogy, Queerness, and Paranoid Reading.” Journal of LGBT Youth. 12.4  (2015): 397-418.
  • “‘Always Gettin’ in Trouble’: The Li’l Tomboy Comic Book Series, the Good Female Consumer, and the Fifties Bad Girl,” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics.  6.1. (2015): 59-90.
  • “‘Learning How to Be the Boy or Girl that You Are’: Me Tarzan, You Jane, the Crusade to ‘Cure’ Pre-Homosexual Children, and the New Face of the Ex-Gay Movement in the United States.”  Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. 7.3  (Fall 2014): 534-555.
  • “‘And Don’t Forget to Vote!’:  Political Parodies of Popular Pictures Books and the New American Broadside.”  The Lion and the Unicorn.  38.1 (January 2014):  1-29.
  • “The Biggest Loser:  Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter Series, the Queer Art of Failure, and the American Obsession with Achievement.”  Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature. 52.1 (January 2014): 1-10.
  • “ ‘A Grand Amount of Fagginess’:  The Faggiest Vampire, Bizarro Fiction for Children, and the Dehomosexualization of LGBTQ Terminology.”  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.  37.4  (Winter 2012):  400 – 414.
  • “ ‘You Must Kill Her’:  The Fact and Fantasy of Filicide in ‘Snow White.’ ”  Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies.  26.2 (2012):  178 – 203.
  • “When Clothes Don’t Make the Man:  Sartorial Style, Conspicuous Consumption and Class Passing in Lothar Meggendorfer’s Scenes in the Life of a Masher.”  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.  37.1  (Spring 2012):  43 - 65. 
  • “ ‘The Queen Had Only One Way of Settling All Difficulties. . . Off With His Head!’:  Alice’sAdventures in Wonderland and the Anti-Gallows Movement.”  Papers:  Explorations in Children’s Literature.  21.1  (2011): 33 – 56.
  • “Constructing Modernist Lesbian Affect from Late-Victorian Masculine Emotionalism:  Willa Cather’s ‘Tommy, the Unsentimental’ and J. M. Barrie’s Sentimental Tommy.” Women’s Writing.  18.4. (Fall 2011):  468 – 465.
  • “Plastic Makes Perfect:  My Beautiful Mommy, Cosmetic Surgery, and the Medicalization of Motherhood.”  Women’s Studies:  An Interdisciplinary Journal.  39.7 (October/November 2010):  715 – 746.
  • “From Christian Conversion to Children’s Crusade:  The Left Behind Series for Kids and the Changing Nature of Evangelical Juvenile Fiction.”  Jeunesse:  Young People, Texts, Cultures.  2.1  (Summer 2010):  84 – 111.
  • “Bury My Heart in Recent History:  Mark Twain’s ‘Hellfire Hotchkiss,’ the Massacre at Wounded Knee, and the Dime Western Formula.”  American Literary Realism.  42.2  (Winter 2010):  114 – 128.
  • “Taking Silliness Seriously:  Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show, the Anglo-American Tradition of Nonsense, and Cultural Critique.”  The Journal of Popular Culture.  42.4 (August 2009):  589 – 613. 
  • “The Politics of Prophecy:  The U.S. Culture Wars and the Battle Over Public Education in the Left Behind Series for Kids.”  International Research in Children’s Literature (IRCL).  2.1  (July 2009): 1- 20.
  • “One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State:  Bringing Partisan Politics to Picturebooks in Katharine DeBrecht’s Help! Mom! Series.”  The Lion and the Unicorn.  33.1  (January 2009):  77 - 103.
  • “Becoming a ‘Red-Blooded’ American:  White Tomboyism and American Indian Tribalism in Caddie Woodlawn.”  Mosaic:  A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature.  41.4  (December 2008):  143 – 159.
  •  “Trans/Forming Girlhood:  Transgenderism, the Tomboy Formula, and Gender Identity Disorder in Sharon Dennis Wyeth’s Tomboy Trouble.”  The Lion and the Unicorn.  32.1 (January 2008):  40 – 60.
  • “From Cold War Lesbian Pulp to Contemporary YA Novels:  Vin Packer’s Spring Fire, M. E. Kerr’s Deliver Us from Evie, and Marijane Meaker’s Fight against Fifties Homophobia.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.   32.3  (Fall 2007):  231 – 251.
  • “The ‘Possessed’ Reassessed:  Elizabeth Stoddard’s The Morgesons, the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria and Literary (Anti)Nationalism.”   ATQ:  American Transcendental Quarterly. 21.1  (March 2007):  47 - 65.
  • “Topsy and Topsy-Turvy Jo:  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and/in Louisa May Alcott’s Little WomenChildren’s Literature.  vol. 34.  Special issue on Louisa May Alcott. Guest edited by Anne K. Philips and Christine Doyle.  (2006):  59 - 82.
  • “Launching a Gender B(l)acklash:  E. D. E. N. Southworth and the Emergence of (Racialized) White Tomboyism.”  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.  31.1  (Spring 2006): 40 - 64.
  • “Oversight as Insight:  Reading the Second Shepherds’ Play as the Second Shepherd’s Play.” Early Theatre.  8.1 (2005):  95 - 108.
  • “Reading Red:  The Man with the (Gay) Red Tie in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.The Mississippi Quarterly.  54.3  (Summer 2001):  293 – 312.
    • Reprinted in Bloom’s Modern Critical InterpretationsWilliam Faulkner’s The Sounds and the Fury, Edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Infobase, 2008.  181 – 196. 

Chapters in Peer-Reviewed Books:

  • “The Boxcar Children and The Box-Car Children:  The Rewriting of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Classic and the Origins of the Early Reader.”   The Early Reader in Children’s Literature and Culture. Eds. Jennifer Miskec and Annette Wannamaker.  New York: Routledge, 2016.  26-37. 
  • “Pundit Knows Best: The Self-Help Boom, Brand Marketing and The O'Reilly Factor for Kids,” in Kidding Around: The Child in Film and Media.  Eds. Alexander N. Howe and Wynn Yarbrough. Bloomsbury Press, 2014. 139-164.
  • “ ‘Mischief of One Kind and Another’:  Nostalgia in Where the Wild Things Are as Text and Film.”  Portrayals of Children in Popular Culture: Fleeting Images.  Eds. Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic and Debbie T. Olson.  Lanham, Maryland:  Lexington/Rowan & Littlefield Press, 2013.    139 – 152.
  • “ ‘An Axe in the Hands of a Burly Negro Cleft the Captain from Forehead to Chin’: Tarzan of the Apes and the American Urban Jungle.”  Global Perspectives on Tarzan:  From King of the Jungle to International Icon.  Co-edited with Annette Wannamaker.  Routledge, 2012:  13 – 27. 
  • “When Girls Will Be Bois: Female Masculinity, Genderqueer Identity, and Millennial LGBTQ Culture.”  Mediated Boyhood: Boys, Teens, and Tweens in Popular Media and Culture.  Ed. Annette Wannamaker.  Peter Lang, 2010.  15 – 35.