Cady Kuzmich, News Editor
SUNY Oneonta English professor, Dr. Amie Doughty, recently gave a lecture in the Alden Room to share her research findings, a part of being a professor that is oftentimes overlooked by students. During the lecture, Doughty shared her thoughts on children’s fantasy literature, a topic which she has recently written about in her latest book, “Throw the Book Away: Reading versus Experience in Children’s Fantasy.” Doughty, a prominent figure in the college’s English Department, earned her MA from Indiana State University and received her doctorate at the University of Oklahoma. She has taught at SUNY Oneonta since 2006 and was tenured in 2010. Along with her most recent publication, Doughty has researched everything from magic and technology in the Harry Potter series, to folktales and the intersection of literature and linguistics.
Doughty was introduced by Bianca Tredennick, who, noting the impressive number of courses taught by Doughty, wondered aloud if the person she was introducing was in fact mortal, or perhaps something more… Before letting Doughty take the stage, Tredenick informed the audience of Doughty’s baking skills. Tredennick became so overwhelmed by the memory of Doughty’s baked goods that she threatened to break into song.
Throughout the lecture, Doughty described the contradictory messages of children’s books, specifically in the fantasy genre, saying that the lessons learned through most fantasy literature do not encourage further reading. Oftentimes the main characters despise school, giving the reluctant child reader a character to relate to. Other times the main characters of children’s fantasy have a natural love of reading but later abandon books, as Doughty notes in the Inkheart series. Doughty questioned what kind of a message these types of children’s books send their young readers. She explained how the children’s book industry is run by adults for adults. It is typically parents, after all, not children, who buy these books. She encouraged her audience to question adult authority in literature as well as in the publishing world, since it is adults who decide what narratives are bought and sold.