Holly Blackford (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is a Professor of English at Rutgers University-Camden, where she teaches and publishes literary criticism on American and children’s literature. Her books include Out of this World: Why Literature Matters to Girls (Teachers College, Columbia University, 2004), Mockingbird Passing: Closeted Traditions and Sexual Curiosities in Harper Lee’s Novel (University of Tennessee Press, 2011), The Myth of Persephone in Girls’ Fantasy Literature (Routledge, 2011), and edited volume 100 Years of Anne with an ‘e’: The Centennial Study of Anne of Green Gables (University of Calgary, 2009). She is currently finishing a manuscript titled Alice to Algernon: Child Consciousness in the Novel, which demonstrates the influence of early developmental psychology, evolutionary theory, and sexology on “child study” in modern novels. She chaired the article award committee of the Children’s Literature Association for six years and now serves on its book award committee; as an associate member of the Childhood Studies faculty, she serves on PhD committees in its doctoral program.
Her next projects include The Hook in the Closet: Queer Men in Children’s Literature and The Animation Mystique: Sentient Toys, Puppets, and Automata in Literature and Culture, but she still has to yet to finish her reader-response book on To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn, for which she received a $9400 grant from the International Reading Association. She has published myriad articles and chapters on transatlantic children’s literature, women’s literature (18th, 19th, and 20th centuries), slave narratives, queer studies, disability studies, adolescence, and film. She recently initiated courses in animation studies in the English Department, which will contribute to both general education and the film/media studies track in the department. She is at her absolute happiest teaching theory of puppets and existential dilemmas of toys as well as childhood; she goes literally nuts with joy when her graduate students spend two hours actively deconstructing The Tin Woodsman of Oz, with all his neuroses about mass production, industrialization, and loss of heart. She recently initiated the graduate track in the study of Childhood, Literature, and Culture, and hopes to see this track grow to accommodate a wide range of projects, from Gothic Childhood in Tim Burton to Black Female Adolescence in American Culture. She has four children who represent the core elements—earth, air, water, and fire—and comprise a holistic perspective on Childhood Studies.