I write books about — and teach classes on — children’s books and comics.


  • 1997: Ph.D., English, Vanderbilt University.

  • 1993: M.A., English, Vanderbilt University.

  • 1992: B.A., English and Psychology, University of Rochester, summa cum laude.



2017:   Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books. New York and London: Oxford UP. Forthcoming.

2012:   Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.  367 pp. Nominated for an Eisner Award, 2013; named as Honor Book by Children’s Literature Association, 2014; winner of SWPACA’s Rollins Book Award, 2014.

2007:   The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats. New York: Random House. 190 pp.

2004:   Dr. Seuss: American Icon. New York and London: Continuum Publishing. 320 pp. A Choice Magazine “Outstanding Academic Book of 2004.”

2002:   The Avant-Garde and American Postmodernity: Small Incisive Shocks. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi. 249 pp.

2001:   J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels: A Reader’s Guide.  New York and London: Continuum Publishing. 96 pp.

Books Edited

2018:   Keywords for Children’s Literature, Second Edition. Co-edited with Lissa Paul and Nina Christensen. New York: New York University Press. In progress.

2017-2018: Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, Volumes 4-5. Co-edited with Eric Reynolds. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books.  In progress.

2016:   Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, Volume Three: 1946-1947. Co-edited with Eric Reynolds. Introduction by Jeff Smith. Essays by Nathalie op de Beeck and Coulton Waugh. Biographical Essay and Notes by Philip Nel. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books. 371 pp.

2014:   Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, Volume Two: 1944-1945. Co-edited with Eric Reynolds. Introduction by Jules Feiffer. Essays by R.C. Harvey and Max Lerner. Biographical Essay and Notes by Philip Nel. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books. 375 pp.

2013:   Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, Volume One: 1942-1943. Co-edited with Eric Reynolds. Introduction by Chris Ware. Essays by Jeet Heer and Dorothy Parker. Biographical Essay and Notes by Philip Nel. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books. 319 pp. Nominated for an Eisner Award, 2014.

2011:   Keywords for Children’s Literature. Co-edited with Lissa Paul.  New York: NYU Press. 282 pp.

2008:   Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature. Co-edited with Julia Mickenberg. Foreword by Jack Zipes. New York: NYU Press. 300 pp.

Books in translation

2015:   Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby. Co-edited with Eric Reynolds. French translation by Harry Morgan. Actes Sud Editions, 2015. 319 pp.

2002:   J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels: A Reader’s Guide.  Japanese translation by Ihei Taniguchi. Tokyo: Jiritsu-shobo Inc. 166 pp.

Afterword to Book

2005:   Crockett Johnson, Magic Beach.  Appreciation by Maurice Sendak.  Afterword by Philip Nel. Ashville, NC: Front Street Books, 2005. Also available in French translation by Quentin Le Goff: La Plage Magique. Tourbillon, 2006. In German translation by Michael Krüger: Der Zauberstrand. Carl Hanser Verlag, 2007. And in Italian translation by Elena Fantasia: Spiaggia Magica. Orecchio Acerbo, 2013.

  Journal, Edited with Introduction

2005:   Children’s Literature and the Left.  Co-edited with Julia Mickenberg.  Special issue.  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 30.4 (Winter 2005).

  Articles in Books

2017:   “Children and Comics.” Comics Studies: A Guidebook, eds. Bart Beaty and Charles Hatfield. Rutgers UP. Forthcoming, 23 pp. in ms.

2016:   “‘Don’t assume anything’: A Conversation with Maurice Sendak.” Conversations with Maurice Sendak. Ed. Peter Kunze. Jackson: UP Mississippi. 107-143.

2015:   “Surrealism for Children: Paradoxes and Possibilities.” Children’s Literature and the Avant-Garde. Ed. Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer and Elina Druker. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 267-284.

2011:   “Postmodernism.”  Keywords for Children’s Literature, eds. Philip Nel and Lissa Paul.  NYU Press. 181-185.

2009:   “1957: Dr. Seuss.” A New Literary History of America, eds. Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.  876-880.

2009:   “Lost in Translation?: Harry Potter, from Page to Screen.” Harry Potter’s World: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, revised edition, ed. Elizabeth Heilman. Routledge.  275-290.

2008:   “DeLillo and Modernism.”  The Cambridge Companion to Don DeLillo, ed. John N. Duvall.  New York and Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 13-26.

2006:   “Homicidal Men and Full-Figured Women: Gender in White Noise.”  Approaches to Teaching DeLillo’s White Noise, eds. Tim Engles and John N. Duvall.  New York: Modern Language Association. 180-191.

2002:   “You Say ‘Jelly,’ I Say ‘Jell-O’?: Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language.” The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon, ed. Lana Whited. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press. 261-84.

  Articles in Refereed Journals

2015:   “A Manifesto for Children’s Literature; or, Reading Harold as a Teen-Ager.” Iowa Review 45.2 (Fall 2015): 87-92. <http://iowareview.org/from-the-issue/volume-45-issue-2-%E2%80%94-fall-2015/manifesto-childrens-literature-or-reading-harold&gt;.

2015:   “When Will the Children Be Free?: Looking Back on Free to Be… You and Me.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 43.1-2 (June 2015): 282-285.

2014:   “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination.” Children’s Literature 42: 71-98.

2014:   “Wild Things, I Think I Love You: Maurice Sendak, Ruth Krauss, and Childhood.” PMLA 129.1 (Jan. 2014): 112-116.

2013:   “Keywords for Children’s Literature: Mapping the Critical Moment.” Co-written with Lissa Paul. Barnelitterært forskningstidsskrift/Nordic Journal of ChildLit Aesthetics 4: <www.childlitaesthetics.net/index.php/blft/article/view/21092>.

2013:   “Re-Imagining America: Jeff Smith, Herman Melville, and National Dreamscapes.” Co-written with Jennifer A. Hughes. The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 4.1: 117-133.

2012:   “Same Genus, Different Species?: Comics and Picture Books.”  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 37.4 (Winter 2012): 445-453.

2011:   “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” Co-written with Julia Mickenberg. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 36.4 (Winter 2011): 445-473.

2010:   “Obamafiction for Children: Imagining the Forty-Fourth U.S. President.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 35.4 (Winter 2010): 334-356.

2007:   “Children’s Literature Goes to War: Dr. Seuss, P.D. Eastman, Munro Leaf, and the Private SNAFU Films (1943-1946).”  The Journal of Popular Culture 40.3: 468-87.

2005:   “Is There a Text in This Advertising Campaign?: Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter.” The Lion and the Unicorn 29.2 (Apr. 2005): 236-267.

2003:   “The Disneyfication of Dr. Seuss: Faithful to Profit, One Hundred Percent?” Cultural Studies 17.5 (Sept. 2003): 579-614.

2002:   “Don DeLillo’s Return to Form: The Modernist Poetics of The Body Artist.” Contemporary Literature 43.4 (Winter 2002): 736-59.

2002:   “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bored: Harry Potter, the Movie.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 46.2 (Oct. 2002): 172-75.  Repr. Reading Online Nov. 2002 <www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/lit_index.asp?HREF=/newliteracies/jaal/10-02_column>.

2001:   “‘Never overlook the art of the seemingly simple’: Crockett Johnson and the Politics of the Purple Crayon.”  Children’s Literature 29: 142-74.

2001:   “Amazons in the Underworld: Gender, the Body, and Power in the Novels of Don DeLillo.”  Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 42.4 (Summer 2001): 416-36. Rpt. in  Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 213, ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Detroit: Gale, 2006.

2001:   “‘Said a Bird in the Midst of a Blitz…’: How World War II Created Dr. Seuss.”  Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 34.2 (June 2001): 65-85.

1999:   “‘A small incisive shock’: Modern Forms, Postmodern Politics, and the Role of the Avant-Garde in Don DeLillo’s Underworld.”  Modern Fiction Studies 45.3 (Fall 1999): 724-52.  <muse.jhu.edu/journals/modern_fiction_studies/v045/45.3nel.html>.

1999:   “Dada Knows Best: Growing Up ‘Surreal’ with Dr. Seuss.”  Children’s Literature 27: 150-84.


2016:   “Dancing on the Manhole Cover: The Genius of Richard Thompson.” The Comics Journal 3 Aug. 2016: <http://www.tcj.com/dancing-on-the-manhole-cover-the-genius-of-richard-thompson/&gt;.

2016:   “Just a Shot Away.” Inside Higher Ed. 12 Apr. 2016: <https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/04/12/armed-campuses-spell-demise-public-universities-essay&gt;.

2015:   “Advice for Aspiring Academics.” Inside Higher Ed 19 Aug. 2015: <https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2015/08/19/essay-advice-academics-starting-their-careers&gt;.

2014:   “Nightmare Neighbors, Dream Collaborators: Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash on Bow-Wow, Comics, Picture Books and Telling Stories Without Words.” The Comics Journal 3 Nov. 2014: <http://www.tcj.com/nightmare-neighbors-dream-collaborators-mark-newgarden-and-megan-montague-cash-on-bow-wow-comics-picture-books-and-telling-stories-without-words/&gt;.

2014:   “Board of Regents can learn from social media work group.” The Lawrence Journal-World 15 Apr. 2014. <http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/apr/15/your-turn-board-regents-can-learn-social-media-wor/&gt;.

2014:   “In Search of Lost Time.” Inside Higher Ed 3 Mar. 2014: <http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/03/03/essay-why-faculty-members-work-so-much&gt;.

2014:   “KSU Prof weighs in on social media policy.” The Lawrence Journal-World 7 Jan. 2014. <http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/jan/07/opinion-ksu-prof-weighs-social-media-policy/&gt;.

2013:   “Comics for Progressives: Coulton Waugh’s Hank.” Archives of American Art Journal. 52.3-4 (Fall 2013): 32-39.

2013:   “Crockett Johnson and the Invention of Barnaby.”  The Comics Journal.  22 Apr. 2013. <www.tcj.com/crockett-johnson-and-the-invention-of-barnaby/>.

2013:   “Wild Things, Children, and Art: The Life and Work of Maurice Sendak.” The Comics Journal 302: 12-29.

2012:   “Adjunct to the Tenure Track — Part II.”  Inside Higher Ed 3 Oct. 2012. <www.insidehighered.com/advice/2012/10/03/essay-how-adjunct-got-job-tenure-track>.

2012:   “From Adjunct to the Tenure Track.”  Inside Higher Ed 1 Oct. 2012. <www.insidehighered.com/advice/2012/10/01/essay-moving-adjunct-tenure-track-professor>.

2012:   “Before Barnaby: Crockett Johnson Grows Up and Turns Left.”  The Comics Journal 26 Sept. 2012. <www.tcj.com/before-barnaby-crockett-johnson-grows-up-and-turns-left/>.

2012:   “Artists Are to Watch: Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss in the 1950s.” Horn Book Sept-Oct. 2012. 10-18.

2010:   “Dr. Seuss’s Biography” and “Timeline.”  Seussville.com  Aug. 2010.  <www.seussville.com/#/author>.

2008:   “The Fall and Rise of Children’s Literature.”  American Art 22.1 (Spring 2008): 23-27.

2008:   “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!: Dr. Seuss’s Political Education.” Child Parenting Journal [Australia] Spring 2008: 18-20.

2004:   “Crockett Johnson and the Purple Crayon: A Life in Art.” Comic Art 5 (Winter 2004): 2-18.


2015:   “Sendak, Maurice Bernard.” American National Biography. Oxford UP, Oct. 2015. 6 pp. in ms. <http://www.anb.org/articles/17/17-02000.html&gt;.

2006:   Entries on Ruth Krauss, Molly Leach, Winsor McCay, and Lucy Sprague Mitchell.  Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature.  Ed. Jack Zipes.  Oxford UP.  Vol. 2: 383, 412.  Vol. 3: 50-51, 81.

2005:   “Seuss, Dr. (Theodor Seuss Geisel).”  The Encyclopedia of New England Culture.  Ed. Burt Feintuch and David Watters.  New Haven and London: Yale UP.  1026-1027.

2003:   “Dr. Seuss.” Men & Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II: K-Z.  Eds. Michael Kimmel and Amy Aaronson.  Santa Barbara, Denver, and Oxford: ABC-Clio Press.  710-713.

2000:   “Underworld by Don DeLillo.”  Beacham’s Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction. Vol. 12. Ed. Mark W. Scott.  Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group.  445-61.

2000:   “The Harry Potter Phenomenon.”   Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1999.  Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli.  Detroit: The Gale Group.  173-79.

1997:   “Don DeLillo: An Annotated Bibliography.”  Co-written with Curt Gardner.  Don DeLillo’s America.  Website.  Ed. Curt Gardner.  10 pp. in manuscript  <perival.com/delillo/ddbiblio.html>.


2010:   “Metafiction for Children: A User’s Guide.”  4-minute film.  In Media Res 3 Sept. 2010. <mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/2010/09/03/metafiction-children-users-guide>.

2010-:  Nine Kinds of Pie: Philip Nel’s Blog. July 2010-present. <www.philnel.com>.

1999-2014: The Don DeLillo Society. June 1999-2014. <www.ksu.edu/english/nelp/delillo>.

1998-:  The Crockett Johnson Homepage.  July 1998-present.  <www.ksu.edu/english/nelp/ purple>.  Named a Yahoo! “Cool Site” in Nov. 1998, and deemed “Noteworthy” by Britannica.com in Dec. 2000.


2016:   “Running Out of Time.” Every Little Thing, ed. Alison Piepmeier. 11 Jan. 2016: <http://alisonpiepmeier.blogspot.com/2016/01/running-out-of-time-guest-post-by.html&gt;

2015:   “Innocent Children and Frightened Adults: Why Censorship Fails.” From the Square: The NYU Press Blog 30 Sept. 2015: <http://www.fromthesquare.org/?p=7814#. Vi418RCrSHr>.

2010:   “Brave Potatoes.”  Curious Pages: Recommended Inappropriate Books for Kids, ed. Lane Smith and Bob Shea. Mar. 2010. <curiouspages.blogspot.com/2010/03/brave-potatoes.html>.

2009:   “Flat Stanley.”  Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life, ed. Anita Silvey.  Roaring Brook Press.  66-67.

2008:   “A Is for Art.” An Abstract Alphabet: New Works by Stephen Johnson (exhibition catalogue). Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 19 May – 5 Aug. 2007.  Revised version printed in Alphabet Soup: Work by Stephen Johnson, Jim Munce, Tony Fitzpatrick, Beach Museum, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, 4 April – 3 Aug. 2008.  Repr. <www.philnel.com/2010/08/31/stephen-johnson-abstract/>.

2006:   Letter to the Editor.  The Horn Book Nov.-Dec. 2006: <www.hbook.com/magazine/letters/nov06.asp>.

2004:   “Research Notes: ‘A Left Turn.’” The Courant 1 (Fall 2004): 4-5. <library.syr.edu/information/spcollections/courant/no1-2004.pdf>. [Published by Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections.]

1999:   “A Pro-Feminist Man.”  SKIRT! Magazine  Nov. 1999: 39.  Longer version printed as “A Pro-Feminist Man Is Not an Oxymoron: A Conversation with Michael Kimmel.”  The Forum: Women’s Studies at the College of Charleston 3.1 (Fall 1999): 4-5.


2015:   “Wild Things, I Think I Love You: Maurice Sendak, Ruth Krauss, and Childhood.” Children’s Literature Review 196, ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau. Gale/Cengage, 2015. 179-182. [from PMLA 129.1 (2014)]

2009:   “Seussism.”  Wildlife Art Journal 18 Aug. 2009 <wildlifeartjournal.com/articles/wildlife-art-journal-premium-content/fall-2009/76/seussism.html>.  [adapted from Dr. Seuss: American Icon]

2008:   “Is There a Text in This Advertising Campaign?: Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter.” Key readings in media today: Mass communication in contexts. Eds. Brooke Erin Duffy, Joseph Turow. New York: Routledge, 2008. [from The Lion and the Unicorn 29.2 (Apr. 2005)]

2008:   “Fantasy, Mystery, and Ambiguity.” The Norton Guide to Field Writing with Readings and Handbook. Eds. Richard Bullock, Maureen Daly Goggin, Francine Weinberg. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 663-669. [from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels: A Reader’s Guide (2001), 36-41.]

2005:   “‘Said a Bird in the Midst of a Blitz…’: How World War II Created Dr. Seuss.” Children’s Literature Review, Vol. 100, ed. Tom Burns.  Detroit: Gale, 2005. [from Mosaic 34.2 (June 2001)]


2005:   “Dada Knows Best: Growing Up ‘Surreal’ with Dr. Seuss.” Children’s Literature Review, Vol. 103, ed. Tom Burns.  Detroit: Gale, 2005. [from Children’s Literature 27 (1999)]

Blog Posts

    Philip Nel

    Profile picture of Philip Nel


    Active 7 years, 4 months ago