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Profile photo of Dr. Abbie Ventura
Dr. Abbie Ventura
Assistant Professor and Associate Department Head
Ph.D., Illinois State University
  Holt 323
Abbie Ventura teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature. Her research specializations include visual literacies, bilingual picture books and Latino studies, and the economics of childhood and adolescence. She has published on issues of social activism and the role of the youth voice and is currently working on a manuscript that explores how post- World War II economic practices have shaped the genre of children's and adolescent literature nationally and internationally. Her other interests include consumerism and the politics of childhood, as well as the aesthetics of twenty-first century picture books and the Caldecott medaling system.

Research and/or Creative Interests
Children's Literature and Culture; Translation Studies and International Children's Literature; Transcendentalism and the Children's Genre; Value of the Humanities

Teaching Interests
Children's Literature; Children's Culture & Childhood Studies; Young Adult Literature; Graphic Narrative & Pictorial Literatures; Multiculturalism & Diversity in Children's Literature; New Media and Transmedia in Children's Literature; Twentieth­Century American Fiction

Teaching Approach
I'm a discussion­-based instructor, little lecture in my courses, and I'm heavy on exploratory and disruptive thinking. That is, making what is familiar unfamiliar, and disrupting the known "truths" of our world view with new and strange perspectives. I'm also invested in what it means to live empathetically and authentically, and the ways literature connects to this and has the power to shape our real­world human experiences beyond the classroom.

Why did you become an English professor?
I teach children's literature because I believe it is the most powerful, political, and ideological literature there is. From the earliest age, and without our awareness or permission, it shapes our world views, our impressions of others, even the way we regard and value ourselves. I also teach children's literature because it's beautiful and, even in its darkest portrayals, is honest and raw in what it means to be human.

Outside of being a professor, what do you do for fun and/or relaxation?
It's Chattanooga. So kayaking, hiking, paddle boarding, yoga­ing, farmers market­ing, etc. I've gone full­blown granola since moving here. On the breaks you'll find me by salt water.

What are your expectations of students?
First, expectations are future disappointments ­­ I don't expect anything of students. But the standard I hold for students is understanding that being a student is a professional role, one they should treat seriously. And for them to ask the best of themselves in this way ­­ and not for a faculty member's benefit, but for themselves.

On more of the human/life side of the equation, I want students to be OK with not having everything figured out and not knowing their life fact, to realize they don't need to have those things figured out and probably never really will. As Neil Gaiman writes, “Grown­ups don't look like grown­ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown­ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

What's something about you that might surprise your students?
I used to be a roller derby girl ("Call Me Impale") and, as of November 2015, I'm a 200­hour Registered Yoga Teacher.