Bittner, Rob

MACL alumni (2011); researcher in young adult fiction and sexuality; doctoral student at Simon Fraser University; book reviewer; editor, Journal of Graduate Research in Young People’s Materials and Culture; co-chair of the UBC Graduate Student Children’s Literature Research Conference; American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Committee; co-convenor of the ALA Young Adult Library Services Association’s Student Interest Research Group; editorial assistant for the Emerging Voices column in the online children’s literature journal Through the Looking Glass; volunteer in children’s literacy and literature communities

When I heard about the MA in Children’s Literature at UBC, it was the obvious choice for a graduate program in my field. I love young adult literature and very few programs in Canada, if any, offer classes on the subject or allow for much study in YA related research. . . . I knew I would be able to find an academic home in SLAIS. The professors all encouraged me to pursue my studies in YA literature in all of my classes, using different theoretical approaches depending on the course themes. I was able to look at YA culture in relation to new media, the history of YA literature, and even related to critical race theory and queer theory.

Because of the opportunity to work with people in different Faculties and departments, I was able to find opportunities for self-directed study in my area . . . that allowed me to take on a co-teaching position at Simon Fraser University while gaining credit for the MACL program. Creative writing was another field that I was able to be involved in. I workshopped a story of mine in the course and was able, eventually, to get it sent to Scholastic for review. It is entirely possible that a book could come out of the experience.

I was also encouraged, by numerous faculty members, to submit my work to various journals and conferences. In doing so, I had the incredible privilege of attending and presenting at two conferences during my time in the program, and was even given funding from SLAIS on one of the occasions. I presented at the Children’s Literature Association Conference in the US as well as the Mapping Childhoods Conference in Lethbridge. I am even part of the team organizing the 2012 Children’s Literature Research conference for Graduate students at UBC. It is a fantastic opportunity to network and gain valuable skills in conference organization.

One other great experience was working as a Graduate Research Assistant. . . . I expanded far beyond my normal areas of interest, using theories of Ecocriticism and Sustainability to analyze children’s virtual worlds. It was a great opportunity to gain experience as a researcher and to take part in a field and type of research that I was previously unfamiliar with. The research is also being worked into a possible conference presentation or journal article.

Having members [of my thesis committee] from different areas was an asset that gave me opportunities to expand my research into different areas than I was used to in my history as an English student. The support of all the faculty members in SLAIS and specifically the MACL program was invaluable in getting me through the program quickly and efficiently while still giving me plenty of opportunities to expand my interests and pass on my knowledge to others in the field.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Master of Arts in Children’s Literature
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Vancouver, BC, V6T1Z2, Canada

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