CAMDEN – Each year Rutgers University grants 10 outstanding doctoral students a Presidential Fellowship, a prestigious award that provides a $30,000 stipend, plus tuition and fee reimbursement. Two presidential fellows, hailing from California and Washington, D.C. now join the Rutgers–Camden childhood studies PhD program, the first of its kind in the nation.
While the two may both be working toward the same degree, their professional backgrounds and scholarly ambitions are vastly different. A uniting factor is their agreement that Rutgers–Camden is the ideal place to study childhood studies at the doctoral level.
Martin Woodside of San Diego, California and Theresa Murzyn of Washington, D.C., are part of a 22-candidate doctoral program, noted throughout the world for its innovative multi-disciplinary approach to childhood.
Already a five-time published author of children’s books as well as an established poet, Woodside sought to pursue a career as a children’s literary scholar. As an MFA student in creative writing at San Diego State, Woodside found himself enrolling in more and more children’s literature courses. To pursue a PhD in this discipline – he had already earned an MA in children’s literature at the University of California-Davis – Woodside was encouraged by the director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature to consider Rutgers–Camden.“What I like about this program is that I can bring all my different strengths and tie them all together here,” offers Woodside, who relocated with his wife and infant daughter to Philadelphia’s Art Museum Area. “I was hoping for a broad selection of courses and am enjoying just that, I didn’t want to be limited by a narrow focus.”
Woodside says his coursework leaves less time for creative writing, but he still manages to write poetry, most recently about his daughter. An anthology he translated of Romanian poetry titled Of Gentle Wolves will soon be published by Calypso Editions, a press he helped launch while in California. Woodside collected these poems in Romania in 2009-10 on a Fulbright scholarship. While his poetry isn’t written for children, his academic interests concern what children’s fiction tells us about real children.
“I am curious about how children are presented and configured in literature,” says the Rutgers–Camden scholar. “Children’s literature may be a major industry now, but I’m interested in when it wasn’t, when Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were written for two different audiences, but even Twain wasn’t sure which was which.”from: http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/news-releases/2011/03/rutgers-presidential-20110315