Dr. Rowe is a passionate professor of children's literature who has a lifelong love for stories, Disney and diverse cultures. She often visits Walt Disney World, not only as a fan who enjoys the shows and attractions but also as a scholar who conducts research on the media and messages of the parks. She explores how children's media is constructed and received by various audiences and how it shapes their views of themselves and the world. She also loves teaching her students to find their own voices and to critically analyze the media they encounter every day. For her, teaching is the most fulfilling and rewarding aspect of her career.
A Conversation With Dr. Rebecca Rowe
Why do you like teaching?
More than anything, I've always loved helping people, and that's how I view my teaching. I'm helping my students understand how they fit into the world around them. I'm helping them find, strengthen and use their voice. I'm helping them analyze and understand the various media they engage with daily. I love getting to know my students, their education and life goals, and getting to walk along their paths with them for a while, helping them achieve whatever they set their minds to. Getting to listen to my students and watching them grow as thinkers and scholars really is just the most rewarding part of my career.
Why did you choose your research area?
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be an English professor, mainly because I've always loved stories so much. I decided to focus on children's literature simply because it's the type of literature that I love most. My particular focus on childhood and adulthood as seen in children's media came about partially because of a conversation between my mom and uncle when I was working on my bachelor’s degree. He asked her when I was going to stop watching “all that kid's stuff.” My mom simply responded, “When her dad does.” It was the first time that I really understood that it was unusual for me (and my parents) to regularly engage with children's media. I was confused by the idea that we would suddenly be interested in a different kind of media when we hit a specific age and decided I needed to understand how my uncle and I could have such differing opinions on when children's media is appropriate. From there, I started researching what made children's literature “for children” and why adults love it so much if it's supposedly not intended for them. Understanding audiences, both real and implied, eventually became my main research focus.
What is a project you are working (academic or otherwise) on or have completed?
I'm founding and editing the International Journal of Disney Studies, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to all things Disney, with my colleague Robyn Muir at the University of Surrey. We're working with scholars from every continent besides Antarctica to bring together research from a wide range of disciplines (including literature, film, media studies, cultural studies, fan studies sociology, psychology, musicology, business and tourism studies) to better understand how this media behemoth affects our lives and cultures.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
As a scholar and a fan, I'd have to say Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida. I grew up going there with my family and some of my fondest childhood memories took place there. Now, I still love the Parks, especially being able to see that many shows in such a short amount of time. Also, as a Disney scholar, going there doubles as a research trip, which is highly convenient.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
At different points in time, I wanted to be an actress, a marine biologist and an archeologist (among other things). I think that my job as a professor is a strange combination of what drew me to each of those careers: I get to perform in front of a class of people and learn new things about cultures through my research. If I can just figure out how to make swimming with dolphins a regular part of my work, I'll hit the trifecta!
- Ph.D., English, University of Connecticut, 2021
- M.A., English, Children's Literature Track, Kansas State University, 2016
- B.A., English Literature and History, Hollins University, 2014
- Children’s Literature, Media and Culture
- Film and Television
- Visual Culture
- Popular Culture
- Fans and Fandom
- Digital Humanities
- Children's and Adolescent Literature
- English Education
- Digital Humanities
- ENG 300 Reading, Analyzing, Teaching Literature
- ENG 305 Children's Literature
- ENG 406 Adolescent Literature
- ENG 504 Graphic Narratives
- ENG 505 History of Children's Literature
- ENG 506 Problems in Adolescent Literature
- ENG 507 Children and Adaptation
- ENG 508 Reality in Children's Literature
Part 1 of the Spooky Story Series For many of us, a childhood rite of passage was to get our hands on a book from Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series. The spine-chilling tales and Stephen Gammell’s horrifying illustrations kept many of us awake at night. Because of this, “Scary Stories” […]