The Professor in Children’s Literature

Fincham Press’ first open access volume, this anthology edited by Melissa Terras is set to appear in autumn 2018.

Book cover (detail)
Book cover (detail)

How are professors depicted in children’s literature? This anthology features twenty-six depictions of the academy in books marketed towards a young audience. Chosen from texts published between 1871 and 1933, when universities and the wider education sector were rapidly expanding, many of the texts featured here reflect societal concerns regarding science, expertise, and these new places of learning.

From the ineffectual and baffled Professor Ptthmllnsprts in The Water Babies (Kingsley 1863) to the conceited Professor Wogglebug in The Emerald City of Oz (Baum 1910), the image of the professor settles into the stereotype of the male, mad muddlehead well established in The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm (Hunter 1933). This anthology draws together both well-known and rediscovered characters, indicating that the suspicion of experts and the mistrust of science has a long history that is firmly embedded in the tales we tell our children.