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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Professor Kiera Vaclavik, BA, MA, PhD


Co-founder and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Childhood Culture (with the V&A Museum of Childhood); Co-Organiser of the Children's Literature/Children's Lives research cluster

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8333
Room Number: Arts One 139
Office Hours: Fridays,1-3pm


My research focuses on children's literature and culture from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day, and seeks to advance the study of children’s literature by bringing it into productive dialogue with a range of other fields including classics, postcolonial studies, fashion and music. Much of my work involves collaboration with high-profile, internationally-renowned individuals and organisations across the creative and cultural industries.

My current work uses Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to explore intersections between fashion and fiction for young readers and establishes an innovative approach to the reception of children’s literature. The project traces the emergence of Alice as style icon, exploring the many different ways in which she was dressed in the nineteenth century - how she both follows fashions and sets trends - and also the practice of dressing as Alice. The aim is to reconstruct Victorian visions of Alice, and to extend our understanding of her character (and that of her creator) via analysis of dress and physical appearance. The project will extend reception studies into the realm of (fancy) dress and establish a methodology equally applicable to other iconic figures. It not only re-examines canonical works through a new critical lens which sheds light on their international transmission and circulation, but also uncovers neglected source materials. In addition to publications, the research has generated outputs including a fabric collection with Liberty, an exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood, and concert suite with the London Symphony Orchestra. The research has reached an international, multigenerational audience through the exhibition and concert, feature articles commissioned by The Independent, and The Conversation, a number of pubic events and talks, and inclusion in over 100 media and online outlets nationally and internationally (including BBC Breakfast, BBC London, BBC Radio 4, The Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, the Times of India, El Universal (Mexico)).

I have supervised 3 doctoral projects to completion and, in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Geography, am currently supervising Lucie Glasheen (‘Playing with new space in 1930s East London’), and Eithne Nightingale ('Children, Migration & Diaspora', part of the AHRC-funded project, 'The Child in the World' with the V&A Museum of Childhood). In September 2016, I will begin supervision of a further doctoral project 'Adventures in the City: The Politics and Practice of Children’s Adventure Play in Urban Britain, c.1955-97’ (a collaborative studentship with the V&A Museum of Childhood funded by London Social Science ESRC Doctorial Training Centre.)


Research Interests:

Children's literature and childhood culture, Lewis Carroll, world literature, fashion, space and place.


Uncharted Depths: Descent Narratives in English & French Children's Literature (Oxford: Legenda, 2010)

The Alice Look: The Emergence of Lewis Carroll’s Fashion Icon (London: Bloomsbury, Forthcoming 2016)

Journal articles

'More than Mirrors: Dany Laferrière and Frédéric Normandin's Je suis fou de Vava', Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 15/1 (January 2011) (Special Issue: The Francophone Caribbean and North America, edited by Alec G. Hargreaves and Martin Munro)

'Goodbye, Ghetto: Further Comparative Approaches to Children's Literature', PMLA, 126.1 (2011)

'Visibilité variable: la carte au trésor des Mines du roi Salomon', Cahiers Robinson, 28 (2010) (Cartes et plans: paysages à construire, espaces à rêver, ed. by Danielle Dubois-Marcoin and Eléonore Hamaide-Jager), 19-28

'Damaging Goods? Francophone Children's Books in a Postcolonial World', International Research in Children's Literature, 2.2 (December 2009) (Special Issue: Internationalisation, Transculturalism and Globalisation: Manifestations in Children's Literature), 228-242

'The descent to the underworld retold and regendered in Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass', The Journal of Children's Literature Studies, 5:2 (July 2008) 37-56

'Prioritizing children's writing: rewards, risks and repercussions', Canadian Children's Literature/Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse, 34:1 (Spring 2008), 129-135

'Jules Verne écrivain de jeunesse: The Case of Voyage au centre de la terre', Australian Journal of French Studies, 42 (2005), 276-83

'George Sand & Jules Verne: A Missing Link', French Studies Bulletin, 90 (Spring 2004)

'"Un Petit Costume de Mineur": Class and Gender Cross-Dressing in a Reworking of Germinal for Young Readers', Romance Studies, 21 (2003), 115-126

'Brief and Discontinuous Forms of Prose as a Means of Empowerment in Stendhal's La Duchesse de Palliano', French Studies Bulletin, 78 (Spring 2001), 2-6. [Winner of the R. H. Gapper Undergraduate Essay Prize 2000]

Book chapters

‘Of Bands, Bows and Brows: Hair, the Alice Books and the Emergence of a Style Icon’, in Colleen Hill (ed.), Fashion and Fairy Tale (London: Yale University Press, 2016), pp. 253-68

‘Fashions of Alice’, ‘Fashions of Alice’, Alice in a World of Wonderlands, 3 vols(New Castle DE: Oak Knoll Press, June, 2015), vol I, pp. 723-725

'The Dress of the Book: Children's Literature, Fashion and Fancy Dress', Beyond the Book: Transforming Children's Literature, Papers from the British IBBY/NCRCL MA conference held at Roehampton University, UK, on 11 November 2012. IBBY/NCRCL Papers 19, ed. by Bridget Carrington and Jennifer Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), pp. 62-76

'Haïti chérie: Haïti pour qui?', in Ecrits d'Haïti: Perspectives sur la littérature haïtienne contemporaine (1986-2006), ed. by Nadève Ménard (Paris: Editions Karthala, 2011), pp. 137-47

'Writing Young: Edwidge Danticat's Young Adult Fiction', in Edwidge Danticat: A Reader's Guide, ed. by Martin Munro (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2010), pp. 86-98

'L'Edition de jeunesse en Haïti', in L'Edition de jeunesse francophone face à la mondialisation, ed. by Jean Foucault, Michel Manson and Luc Pinhas (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2010), pp. 137-148

'The Truth in Lyra's Lies', in The Golden Compass and Philosophy: God Bites the Dust, ed. by Richard Greene and Rachel Robison (Chicago: Open Court, 2009), pp. 63-71

'Undermining Body and Mind? The Impact of the Underground in Nineteenth-Century Children's Literature', in Histoires de la Terre: Earth Sciences and French Culture, 1740-1940, ed. by Louise Lyle and David McCallam (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2008), pp. 187-201  

'Des abîmes franchis? La relation adulte-enfant dans Vendredi ou la vie sauvage et les valeurs du texte pour son jeune public', in Devenir adulte et rester enfant? Relire les productions pour la jeunesse, ed. by Isabelle Cani, Nelly Chabrol Gagne and Catherine d'Humières (Clermont-Ferrand: Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2008), pp. 283-294

'Death for Beginners: Nineteenth-Century Katabatic Narratives for Young Readers', in Birth and Death in Nineteenth-Century French Culture, ed. by Nigel Harkness, Lisa Downing, Sonya Stephens and Timothy Unwin (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2007), pp. 127-138