Saturday, 8 January 2011

From undergrad to Chair, Part 4

Everybody knows that research grants do not grow on trees and you don't get them on a silver platter. It takes a lot of time and energy to write applications and research proposals, and you also have to be strategical and consider what a Research Council is likely to support. It is widely known that Research Councils are unlikely to support research in children's literature, and it is also widely known that appointment committees are unlikely to give a permanent post in Comparative Literature to someone whose only merits are in children's literature. I had to demonstrate that I could do other stuff and could do it well. I had by that time written a book on the reception of the Swedish writer and Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf in Russia, commissioned and published by the Lagerlöf Society. I submitted a proposal on the reception of Swedish literature in Russia and got it on the second attempt. I hoped that I would be able to do some children's literature on the side, and I did.

I also realised, as Philip Nel did, that what counted for appointment was publications. I went to conferences, invited myself as a guest lecturer (getting my own funding from different bodies), submitted, got rejected, resubmitted, got published. I wrote a book, based on a number of published articles, and offered it to a Swedish publisher who promptly rejected it as having no market in Sweden. Luckily, I saw an announcement in a journal that Jack Zipes was starting a new series for Garland, “Children's Literature and Culture”. I did not know Jack personally, but I sent him a proposal and several published articles. Some months later, I had a contract for the book that was eventually titled Children's Literature Comes of Age.

No comments: