Grad Student Spotlight: Jamie Teixeira

Photo credit: E.Starkey.

I’ve always been an avid reader of children’s books. I remember when most kids my age would get in trouble for running or playing catch in the house and other unruly activities, while I was grounded from reading because it was a distraction from my chores.

For me, children’s literature is not something that people can grow out of, not fully. It’s something you can always come back to, even if you never really left. I find myself intrigued with the complicated questions that children’s and young adult texts ask their readers and the critical thinking they encourage. These texts are important in understanding who we are and the world around us. That’s why I’m studying children’s literature and the impact its writers, publishers, and readers have on our society.

After taking Naomi Wood’s course on Phillip Pullman, I was intrigued by the wonderful and complex themes that arise in His Dark Materials. For my Masters project I’m focusing on Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, specifically examining the role of the Intention Craft (an artifact introduced in The Amber Spyglass). I argue that the Intention Craft is a metaphor for the intersection between the creative process and intention. The vehicle’s function, structure, and name represent the ambiguous and complex relationship between author and reader, between creativity, intent, and interpretation.

When I am not doing research or writing for my thesis, I am grading student quizzes and exams, lesson planning, and reading books for the course I am teaching this semester. I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to teach ENGL 355 “Literature for Children” this semester; it’s a lot of work but I love it. The syllabus includes some of my favorite books (Levine’s Ella Enchanted, Rowling’s Harry Potter, and Parish’s Amelia Bedelia) as well as some important texts I’ve read in my own classes (Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, Ryan’s Becoming Naomi Leon, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). I’m (hopefully) encouraging future elementary educators to expand their understanding of and perspectives on children’s literature. I’m immensely enjoying the critical conversation my students are crafting in class about childhood and what, ultimately, is literature for children.

— Jamie Teixeira (B.A. ’16, M.A. ’18)

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