Faculty and Staff Directory
Sara L. Schwebel
Department of English Language and Literature
|Phone Number:||(803) 576-5891|
PhD, Harvard University, History of American Civilzation
BA, Yale University, History
Areas of Specialization
• Children's and Young Adult literature
• American literature and culture
• American history/American literature as school curriculum
Recently Taught Courses
ENGL 862 A Common Literary Tradition: Reading Children's and Adult Literature in Unison
ENGL 285 Themes in American Literature
ENGL 431a Children's Literature
ENGL 432 Young Adult Literature
ENGL 650S The American Girl: Growing Up Female in The United States, 1830-2000 (Cross-listed with WGST 796S)
• University of South Carolina "Breakthrough Star," 2015
• Daughters of the American Revolution Special Projects Grant, 2015
• Children's Literature Association Article Award, Honorable Mention, 2015
• Walker Institute Faculty Research Grant, 2014
• Teacher of the Year, University of South Carolina Department of English, 2010-2011
Current Research Projects
I am currently editing a print critical edition of Scott O'Dell's landmark children's novel Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) and, in collaboration with partners including the National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park, and the USC Center for Digital Humanities, I am building a virtual museum and digital archive centered on the novel and the historical actor upon whom it is based, the so-called Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island. A Nicoleña/Tongva, the Lone Woman was isolated on the most remote of California’s Channel Islands between 1835-53 as a result of the international sea otter trade and Spanish policies of reducción; she was “rescued” and brought to Santa Barbara in 1853, dying seven weeks later. The Lone Woman’s story circulated widely in the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, with national magazines and local newspapers across the country narrating her tale. The digital archive collects, transcribes, and annotates these articles, enabling readers to see how a mythic narrative of the "discovery" of the Lone Woman, who figures as a “girl Crusoe” and the “last of her tribe,” begins to cohere, ultimately informing Scott O’Dell’s novel Island of the Blue Dolphins—and rehearsing a settler colonial narrative for schoolchildren into the twenty-first century.
Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms examines the historical novels comprising the classroom canon, tracing the relationship of books like Johnny Tremian, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to contemporary politics and historiographical trends. Unlike textbooks subjected to cyclical replacement, historical novels circulate for decades, even as their interpreations of the past diverge from current sensibilities. The books' classroom endurance attests to the resiliency of heritage-based history instruction in K-12 schools. But it also creates unparalleled opportunity for students to learn about the ways in which the past is put to moral and ideological uses in the present.
Listen to a recent radio interview with "Big Jim" about Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms
• The Student Teacher Handbook, 4th Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002. (with David C. Schwebel, Bernice L. Schwebel, and Carol R. Schwebel).
• Yale Daily News Guide to Summer Programs. New York: Kaplan Educational Services/Simon & Schuster, 1999, 2000, 2001.
• “Historical Fiction, the Common Core, and Disciplinary Habits of Mind,” Social Education (2014): 13-17.
• "Reading 9/11 from the American Revolution to U.S. Annexation of the Moon: M.T. Anderson's Feed and Octavian Nothing," Children's Literature 42 (2014): 197-223.
• "Taking Children's Literature Scholarship to the Public: A Manifesto," Children's Literature Association Quarterly 38, 3 (2013): 470-75.
• "Amos Fortune, Free Man: New Uses for a Children's Classic," Common-Place 12, 4 (2012): www.common-place.org.
• "Rewriting the Captivity Narrative for Contemporary Children: Speare, Bruchac, and the French & Indian War," New England Quarterly 84, 2 (2011): 318-46.
• "Historical Fiction and the Classroom: History and Myth in Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond." Children's Literature in Education: An International Quarterly 34 (2003): 195-218.
• “Constructing Island of the Blue Dolphins’ Archive,” University of Florida, Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature (co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture), April 2015.
• “Lone Woman and Last Indians: Island of the Blue Dolphins and its Digital Archive,” Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of World History, International Roundtable: “Fort Ross: Russian-American Dialogue,” October 2014.
• “The Limits of Agency,” Children’s Literature Association, June 2014.
• "Battling for Opportunity: The Girl Soldiers of Shuttered Windows and Warriors Don't Cry," Modern Language Association, January 2013.
• "Novel History: Historical Fiction and the U.S. Classroom," History of Education Society, November 2012.
• "Lost Woman and Last Indians: Reading Island of the Blue Dolphins' Reception History," Eighth California Islands Symposium, October 2012. http://www.nps.gov/chis/photosmultimedia/california-islands-symposium.htm
• Member, Board of Directors, Children’s Literature Association
• Inaugural member, Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature Scholars Council
• Chair, Carolina Children's Literature Consortium: http://www.libsci.sc.edu/cclc/index.htm
• Consulting Faculty, Jewish Studies
• Affiliated Faculty, Southern Studies
• Affiliated Faculty, Public History
• Member, National Board of Directors, Girl Scouts of the USA, 2005-2011