Dr Alison Waller

Dr Alison Waller

Senior Lecturer (Children's Literature)

Department of English and Creative Writing


I work primarily on young adult fiction and adolescence, with an interest in memory in children's and YA literature. I have recently edited a special issue of The Lion and the Unicorn on Margaret Mahy and a collection of essays on children's and young adult author Melvin Burgess for Palgrave MacMillan's New Casebook series. My first book, Constructions of Adolescence in Fantastic Realism was published with Routledge as part of the Children's Literature and Culture Series, and examined fundamental themes which inform our understanding of 'the teenager' and which can be represented symbolically in fantastic tropes.

I am also researching the practice of remembering and rereading childhood fiction, asking how adults negotiate relationships with books from their pasts. Most recently I have been investigating how men remember The Secret Garden, with the help of a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant. I am co-organiser of the cross-disciplinary, AHRC-funded Memory Network, which from 2012-214 brought together scholars from the arts and humanities, scientists, writers and artists to think critically and creatively about memory. I spoke at one of its public events in 2014 on Remembering Stories.

I am a member of the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature and currently convene Roehampton's MA in Children's Literature by distance learning. 

I am external adviser to the Readerships and Literary Cultures project housed at Sheffield Hallam University, sit on the advisory board of Roehampton's Memories of Fiction project, and am a member of the Youth Studies Network run by the University of Leicester. I am on the Editorial Boards of Children's Literature in Education and the 'Studies in European Literature for Children and Youth Adults' book series.

I am on the Executive Committee of University English and represent it on the Board of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE). I recently sat on the review group for the Subject Benchmark Statement for English


PhD (Nottingham Trent)

Research interests

Teaching interests



‘Amnesia in Young Adult Fiction’ and ‘Childhood Books as Time-Capsules’ in S. Groes (ed.) Memory in the Twenty-first Century: New Critical Perspectives from the Sciences and Arts and Humanities. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Forthcoming.

‘Memory and the City in Mahy’s Memory and 24 Hours.’ The Lion and the Unicorn 39:2 (April 2015) 146-165.

‘The Pursuit of knowledge: Scientific Enquiry in His Dark Materials’ in C. Butler and T. Halsdorf (eds.) Philip Pullman: a New Casebook (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) 58-75


'Youth Paused: epiphanies in the seed-time of life'. Afterword to PEER English: Journal of New Critical Thinking 7 (2012)

Co-authored with Fiona Maine. 'Swallows and Amazons Forever!: how adults and children engage in reading a classic text'. Children's Literature in Education 42:4 (2011) 354-371.

'Revisiting Childhood Landscapes: from Druid's Grove to Narnia' The Lion and the Unicorn 34:3 (September 2010) 303-319.

'Rereading Children's Literature: memory and emotion' in J. Plastow (ed.) The Story and the Self: psychoanalytic approaches to children's literature (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire, 2008) 20-28.

'Psychic Barriers and Contact Zones: Rereading Rose and the Rupture between Child and Adult' Children's Literature Association Quarterly 35:3 (Fall 2010) 274-289.

'Fade and the Lone Teenager: young adult fantastic realism shaping modern individualism' in N. Moody & C. Horrocks (eds.) Children's Fantasy Fiction: debates for the 21st Century (Liverpool: Association for Research in Popular Fictions, 2005) 127-144.

'"Solid All the Way Through": Margaret Mahy's Ordinary Witches' in S. Winters & E. Hale (eds.) The Fiction of Margaret Mahy (Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press, 2005) 21-43.

'Is Holden Caulfield Still Real?: the body of theory and practice in young adult literature' in S. Chapleau (ed.) New Voices in Children's Literature (Pied Piper Publishing, 2004) 97-104.

'"Solid All the Way Through": Margaret Mahy's Ordinary Witches' (short version) Children's Literature in Education 35:1 (March 2004) 77-86.

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