[ba hons (Melbourne); ma hons (Sydney); dlitt (Macquarie)]

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Prof John Stephens

[BA Hons (Melbourne); MA Hons (Sydney); DLitt (Macquarie)]

Department of English

Macquarie University

NSW 2109


Positions held:

Sydney University: Teaching Fellow, 1966-69

Macquarie University: Lecturer, 1970-74

Snr Lecturer, 1975-87

A/Professor, 1988-2001

Professor, 2001+

Current position at Macquarie University: Professor in English in the Division of Humanities; Acting Dean of Humanities

Teaching areas:

since the mid-1980s Children's Literature has increasingly become my main teaching field, but I still make an active contribution in other areas, especially post-colonial literature, contemporary poetry, and discourse analysis. A particular area of responsibility is the MA in Children's Literature, which I convene and in recent years have taught most units of (50% from 2000).

I also have a heavy responsibility in the supervision of postgraduate research students: in 2000 I was supervising twelve candidates, mainly in various children's literature projects, but also in discourse analysis and medieval studies.

I have examined theses for several universities: Adelaide, Latrobe, Monash, Sydney, UNE, UCQ, etc.

PhD supervision -- candidates who have successfully completed:

Robyn McCallum 1994 [adolescent fiction]

Elizabeth L'Huede 1994 [contemporary Australian poetry]

Rosemary Johnston 1995 [Australian novelist Colleen Klein]

Margaret Bartholomew 1996 [short story anthologies]

Mirielle Mazzocato 1998 [medieval Italian romance – La Tavola Ritonda]

Alison Halliday 2000 [Australian poetry anthologies for children]

Bin Hu 2000 [Chinese folk tale in English retellings]
Carmel Davis 2000 [medieval English mystics and ideas of space]

University administration:

I have chaired most departmental committees; my major University administrative duty has been a long association with the Senate Postgraduate Studies Committee (PGSC), which oversees all postgraduate study in the University: I served two terms on PGSC in 1981-82 and 1985-86; in 1989 I was appointed Chair of that Committee, holding the position until the end of 1993, when I resigned on becoming Head of the Department of English and Cultural Studies (1994-95). I was reappointed School representative on PGSC for 1994-1996, and again for 1997-1999).

I take up an appointment as Deputy Head of Division from January 2001.

Other Recent Academic/Community Activities:

Elected as Executive Board Member, International Research Society for Children's Literature, 1994-2001 (President, 1997-98; Vice-President, 1996-97; Treasurer, 1994-97). I currently sit on the Board as Immediate Past President.

Editorial Board of Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature 1995+

Guest editor of a focus issue of Papers (Children's film and television)

Senior Editorial Board of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature project (2001-),

Guest editor of a focus issue (Children's literature and literacy) of Australian Journal of Literacy and Language

Regular referee for Children's Literature Association Quarterly

International Board Member, Centre for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, Media (The University of Reading, UK)

Visiting Scholar in Residence, University of South Australia, September-October 1995.

Visiting scholar, University of Helsinki, 1996

Visiting Scholar, Agder University College (Kristiansand, Norway), 1999

Visiting scholar, University of Åbo, 1999

BA Advisory Committee, Avondale College, 1993-95, 1996-99

BA Quality Assurance panel, Charles Sturt University, 2000

I frequently act as an external assessor for applications for promotion and research grants, both in Australia and overseas. The latter has included: Brock University; the University of Hull; the University of Reading; the University of Wales at Cardiff.

Judging Panel, NSW Ministry for the Arts Literary Awards (Children’s Literature Sections), 1994 and 2001.

Arts Council of Australia: one of a three-person committee determining grants for picture book artists

NSW HSC Examination Committee [English]:

Member 1988

Chair 1989-92 (all levels)

Chair 1993 (2-Unit Contemporary English)


Language and Ideology in Children's Fiction received an Honorable Mention in the Children's Literature Association's 1992 Book Award (USA).

The secondary school textbook, From Picture Book to Literary Theory, received the highest of the special commendations in the 1994 National Australian Awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing.


The most significant and prestigious publication to date is Language and Ideology in Children's Fiction (London and New York: Longman, 1992). This has been widely cited in Australia, Britain, Canada, Europe and the USA. See especially the review by Perry Nodelman in Children's Literature, 22(1994).

Other Books:

Retelling Stories, Framing Culture: Traditional Story and Metanarratives in Children's Literature (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998 [with Robyn McCallum]

From Picture Book to Literary Theory, edited with Ken Watson (Sydney: St Clair Press, 1994)

Reading the Signs: Sense and Significance in Written Texts (Sydney: Kangaroo Press, 1992)

Literature, Language and Change: From Chaucer to the Present (London and New York: Routledge, 1990) [with Ruth Waterhouse]

Book Chapters and Journal Articles (over sixty published)

'Weland and a Little Restraint: A Note on Deor 5 6', Studia Neophilologica, 41(1969), 371 74.

'Devotion and Wit in Henryson's "The Annunciation"', English Studies, 51(1970), 323 31.

'Is the Skaldic Dróttkvætt Metre Trochaic?' Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 70(1971), 76 85.

'The Mead of Poetry: Myth and Metaphor', Neophilologus, 61(1972), 259 68.

'The Questioning of Love in The Assembly of Ladies', The Review of English Studies, N.S., 24(1973), 129 40.

'The Poet and Atlakviða: Variations on Some Themes', in Iceland and the Medieval World, ed.E.O.G.Turville Petre and J.S.Martin (1974)

'Scaldic Verse' [Review Article], Journal of English and Germanic Philology 76(1977): 304 308.

'The Backward Look: Retrospectivity in Medieval Literature', Southern Review 16(1983): 356 373 [with Ruth Waterhouse]

'"To tell the truth, I lied...": Retrospectivity and Deconstruction as (Contributing) Strategies for Reading Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children', SPAN 21(1985): 193  208.

'In the Shadow of the Axes: Relationships Between Syntagm/Paradigm, Retrospectivity and Reader Participation', Beitrage zur Phonetik and Linguistik 48(1985): 175 89 [with Ruth Waterhouse]

'George Gascoigne's Posies and the Persona in Sixteenth Century Literature', Neophilologus 70(1986): 130 41.

'The Uses of Personae and the Art of Obliqueness in Some Chaucer Lyrics', Chaucer Review, 21,3(1987): 360 373 [Part I]; 21,4(1987): 410 19 [Part II]; 22,1(1987): 42 53 [Part III].

'Authorial Revision and Constraints on the Role of the Reader: Some Examples from Wilfred Owen', Poetics Today 8(1987): 65 83 [with Ruth Waterhouse]

'"In the Middle of Being in Two Places at Once": Perception and Signification in William Mayne's All the King's Men', Ariel 19(1988): 59 71.

'Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic Elaboration, and Middle English Poetic Style', Parergon N.S. 6A(1988): 23-35

'"I Am Where I Think I Am": Imagination and Everyday Wonders in William Mayne's Hob Stories', Children's Literature in Education 20:1 (1989): 37 50

'Metafictional Strategies and the Theme of Sexual Power in the Wife of Bath's and Franklin's Tales', Nottingham Medieval Studies 33(1989): 56 75

[with Marcella Ryan]

'Language, Discourse, Picture Books', Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 14(1989): 106 110

'Intertextuality and The Wedding Ghost', Children's Literature in Education 21(1990): 23 36

'Evoking Empathy: Structures of Language and Feeling in Robert Gray's Poetry', Australian Literary Studies 14,4 1990: 450 63

'"Beyond the Limits of our Speech...": David Malouf's An Imaginary Life', Commonwealth Novel in English 3,2 (1990): 160 8

'Advocating Multiculturalism: Migrants in Australian Children's Literature after 1972', Children's Literature Association Quarterly 15,4(1990): 180 85

'The Tyranny of the Syntagm in the Literary Uses of Language', Language and Style, 23,1(1990): 45-72 [with Ruth Waterhouse]

'"Did I Tell You About the Time I Pushed the Brothers Grimm off Humpty Dumpty's Wall?": Metafictional Strategies for Constituting the Audience as Agent in the Narratives of Janet and Allan Ahlberg', pages 63-75 in Michael Stone (ed.), Children's Literature and Contemporary Theory (Woollongong: New Literatures Research Centre, 1991)

'"No one of that name here" -- Signs, Things and Meaning "Underneath" in The Real Inspector Hound, The Teaching of English 4/91, October (1991): 23-27.

'No Innocent Texts': the Representation of Marriage in Two Picture book Versions of the Seal Wife Legend' [with Susan Taylor] pages 99-123 in Emrys Evans (ed.) Young Readers, New Readings (Hull UP, 1992)

'Modernism to Postmodernism, or The Line from Insk to Onsk: William Mayne's Tiger's Railway', Papers 3,2 (1992):51-59

'Post-Disaster Fiction: The Problematics of a Genre', Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature, 3,3(1992): 126-30.

'The Unwelcome Suitor: Patriarchal Norms, Masculine Inefficiency, and Negative Modelling in the Old Icelandic Kormáks Saga', Parergon 10,2 (1992): 155-66

'Metafiction and Interpretation: William Mayne's Salt River Times, Winter Quarters and Drift', Children's Literature, 21(1993): 101-117

Hide-and-seek in a huge space": Cultural Schemata, Selfhood and Voice in Jenny Pausacker's What Are Ya?', pages 138-48 in Michael Stone (ed.), Finding a Voice: Australian Children's Literature (Wollongong: New Literatures Research Centre, 1993)

'The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: Article 17 and the Australian Media', pages 125-39 in Okiko Miyake (ed.) Children's Rights in the Multimedia Age: Proceedings of the Fourth Pacific Rim Conference on Children's Literature (Lanham & London: The Scarecrow Press, 1997)

'Stories across Cultures through Time, Place and Space', pages 17-25 in Ways of Seeing: Story from Different Angles (the Children's Book Council of Australia Second National Conference, May 5-8 1994; Port Melbourne: Thorpe, 1994)

'Illustrating the Landscape in Australian Children's Literature' pages 69-83 in Wendy Parsons (ed.) Landscape and Identity: Perspectives from Australia (Blackwood: Auslib Press, 1994)

'Representations of Place in Australian Children's Picture Books', pages 97-118 in Maria Nikolajeva (ed), Voices from Far Away. Current Trends in International Children's Literature Research (Stockholm: Center for the Study of Childhood Culture, 1994)

'Signifying Strategies and Closed Texts in Australian Children's Literature', Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 17,2 (1994): 131-46

'Children's Literature, Value, and Ideology' Australian Library Review 12,3(1995): 255-65

'Writing By Children, Writing For Children: Schema Theory, Narrative Discourse and Ideology', Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 73,3(1995): 853-63

'Gender, Genre and Children's Literature', Signal 79(1996): 1-14

'Linguistics and Stylistics', pp. 56-68 in Peter Hunt (ed.) International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature (London: Routledge, 1996)

“Multiculturalism in recent Australian children's fiction: (Re )constructing Selves Through Historical Fiction and Personal Histories,” pages 1-19 in Myrna Machet, Sandra Olën, and Thomas van der Walt (eds.) Other Worlds, Other Lives Vol.3. Pretoria: University of South Africa.

'Children's Literature, Interdisciplinarity and Cultural Studies', in Clare Bradford (ed.) Writing the Australian Child (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1996)

'"Is This the Promised End...?": Fin de Siècle Mentality and Children's Literature' in Sandra Beckett (ed) Reflections of Change (Greenwood Press, 1997)

'Ideological Reshapings — Pruning The Secret Garden in 1990s Film', Paradoxa 2,3(1996): 471-482 [with Robyn McCallum]

'Images of Australia in Australian Children's Literature', in Gunpowder and Sealing-Wax: Nationalism in Children's Literature, ed. Ann Lawson Lucas (Market Harborough: University Texts, 1997)

'Not Unadjacent to a Play about a Scottish King: Terry Pratchett Retells Macbeth', Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature, 7,2(1997): 29-37.

'Beyond the poststructuralist dismissal of realism: realist narrative strategies and individual subjectivity in Pagan's Scribe and The First Book of Samuel', Proceedings of the "Making It Real" Children's Literature Conference, Deakin University, March 22, 1997.

'Ideology and Narrative Discourse in Children's Fiction', Kinder- und Jugendliteratur forschung, 1998. [Yearbook of the German Research Society for Children's Literature — in German, translated by Reinbert Tabbert]

'Discourses of Femininity and the Intertextual Construction of Feminist Reading Positions' in Girls, Boys, Books, Toys: Gender in Children's Literature and Culture, ed. Beverly Clark and Margaret Higonnet (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), pages 130-141 [with Robyn McCallum]

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: entries on 'Myth and Fairy Tale' (3000 words); Tanith Lee (1000 words); Terry Pratchett (1000 words); brief entries on Michael Foreman, Catherine Storr and Kevin Crossley-Holland; 'Fairy Tale and Film' (3000 words, co-authored with Robyn McCallum).

'Little Grandma's Quilt and the Limits of Cultural Hybridity: Sylvia Watanabe's Talking to the Dead', in Festschrift for Yasmine Gooneratne, ed. Devika Brendon (1999)

'Continuity, Fissure, or Dysfunction? From Settler Society to Multicultural Society in Australian Fiction', in Roderick McGillis (ed.) Voices of the Other: Colonial and Postcolonial Children's Literature. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1999, pages 55-70.

'Constructions of Female Selves in Adolescent Fiction: Makeovers as Metonym', Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature, 9,1(1999): 5-13.

'Maintaining Distinctions: Realism, Voice, and Subject Position in Australian Young Adult Fiction', in Sandra Beckett (ed.) Transcending Boundaries: Writing for a Dual Audience of Children and Adults. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1999, pages 183-198.

'Continuity, Fissure, or Dysfunction? From Settler Society to Multicultural Society in Australian Fiction', in Roderick McGillis (ed.) Voices of the Other: Colonial and Postcolonial Children's Literature. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1999 [published in 2000].

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: entries on 'Myth and Fairy Tale' (3000 words); Tanith Lee (1000 words); Terry Pratchett (1000 words); brief entries on Michael Foreman, Catherine Storr and Kevin Crossley-Holland; 'Fairy Tale and Film' (3000 words, co-authored with Robyn McCallum). Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

'Modality and Space in Picture Book Art: Allen Say's Emma's Rug', CREATA, 1(2000): 44-59.

'Questions of "What" and "Where," and Contexts of "Meaning" for The Mouse and his Child in the Late Twentieth Century', in Alida Allison (ed.) Russell Hoban/Forty Years: Essays on his Writing for Children. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 2000, pages 43-58.

"Unbronzing the Aussie: Heroes and SNAGs in Fiction and Television for Australian Adolescents", in A Necessary Fantasy: The Heroic Figure in Children's Popular Culture, ed. Dudley Jones and Tony Watkins (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000) [with Robyn McCallum]

"'There are Worse Things than Ghosts': Reworking Horror Chronotopes in Australian Children's Fiction" in A.E. Gavin and C. Routledge (eds.), Secrets and Solutions: Critical Encounters with Mystery in Children's Literature. London: Macmillan, 2001 [With Robyn McCallum]

“Witch figures in Recent Children’s Fiction: the Subaltern and the Subversive”, in Ann Lawson Lucas (ed.) The Past in the Present (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003)

“‘A Page Just Waiting to be Written on’: Masculinity Schemata and the Dynamics of Subjective Agency in Junior Fiction” (in Ways of Being Male, New York: Routledge, 2002).

“Representing Masculinity in Young Adult Fiction: a Comparative Study of Examples from Norway and Australia” (with Rolf Romören, in Ways of Being Male, New York: Routledge, 2002).

“Queering Heterotopic Spaces: Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy and Peter Wells’ Boy Overboard”, (with Beverley Pennell, in Ways of Being Male, New York: Routledge, 2002).

“‘I’ll never be the same after that summer’: From Abjection to Subjective Agency in Teen Films” in Kerry Mallan and Sharyn Pearce (eds.) Popular Youth Culture, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2002.



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