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Thesis on Children’s Author Wins

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Amy Kremer ’14 (M.A. American studies), a long-time instructor at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, is one of the recipients of the 2015 Giles T. Brown Outstanding Thesis Award for “Woods, Woods and Falcons: The Children’s Nature Writing of Jean Craighead George,” which analyzes work produced between 1948 and 2012.

“I grew up reading and enjoying George’s books,” says Kremer, “and was reintroduced to her work when my own children entered elementary school, and when I took an American studies class with Michael Steiner, I was struck by how her work provides wonderful insights into our understanding of the natural world and humanity’s relationship to it.”

The award, she explains, “validates the idea that we can look for clues about American culture and cultural change in seemingly unlikely places, such as children’s literature.”

The thesis award committee, which called Kremer’s thesis “the most unambiguously original” of the nominations, also said: “Kremer showed us how they grew out of George’s own personal experiences, how at the same time they can be understood as responses to shifting conceptions of gender during George’s lifetime, and, finally, how they can be understood within the history of nature writing and conservationism/environmentalism during the 20th and early 21st centuries. Finally, Kremer very nicely places George’s writings within the context of the history of nature writing aimed at youthful audiences by prize-winning authors.”

The American Studies Department “is a progressive and open place. I am grateful to have learned so much from so many brilliant minds,” says Kremer, who hopes that her graduate work has made her a more well-rounded instructor. 

The annual award recognizes distinguished scholarly achievement at the master’s level and is named after the late Giles T. Brown, associate vice president emeritus for academic programs and graduate studies, professor emeritus of history and recipient of the university’s Outstanding Professor Award. This year, the award went to Kremer and to David Lin ’14 (M.S. in biology) for his study of the public health problem of antibiotic-resistant infections. Lin is pursuing a doctorate in microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.