College of Education and Human Development

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Marek Oziewicz

  • Pronouns: he, him, his

  • Professor - Literacy Education, Sidney and Marguerite Henry Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Director of the Center for Climate Literacy

Marek Oziewicz

Areas of interest

I study the transformative power of literature for the young reader. Within children’s literature, my foci include speculative fiction, especially fantasy; global and multicultural books; and literature-based cognitive modeling for moral imagination, global citizenship, environmental awareness, and justice literacy.


I believe that literature is the most complex vehicle for sharing stories. Literature matters because stories are humanity’s oldest technology for social transformation. Stories are how we learn, how we know, and how we care. I believe that any progressive change must first be imagined as a story. Stories become dreams, which become work, which becomes reality. My research is grounded in the fact, established by cognitive science, that our brains are hardwired for narrative understanding. I believe that our greatest challenge today is a transition to an ecological civilization, so I explore how literature helps nourish universal climate literacy. I study how narratives assist young readers in the formation of global consciousness built on inclusiveness and equality. I advocate for narrative fiction as a tool for developing climate and justice literacy adequate to the current challenges. I also study global and multicultural literature as sites where we learn to appreciate differences.

All of my work is about how literature empowers young people to reach their full potential so that they can respond to the challenges of the contemporary world in a holistic and ethical way.


Please note that not all of these courses are offered each semester.

CI 1904 “Picturebooks and Graphic Novels” A freshman seminar about these two formats as crucial to the development of young people’s visual literacy. What is so appealing in the combination of visual and textual storytelling, and what is the role of picturebooks and graphic novels in young people’s lives?

CI 1908W “Children and Other Talking Animals” A freshman seminar about animal tales in children’s literature as reflecting humanity’s never entirely suppressed memory of our kinship with animals. Why is the bulk of animal tales to be found in children’s literature?

CI 3401W “Diversity in Children’s Literature” An introductory course about the diversity of genres and forms of children’s literature as well as the diversity of voices and perspectives it embraces.

HSem 2325H “Fantasy: A Ghastly Wicked Introduction” An honors seminar about how fantasy literature draws the young audience into the realms of wonder and mystery, empowering them to create visions that will change the future. Students are tortured with novels, graphic novels, and films until they discover their own special powers.

CI 5402 “Introduction to Special Collections: the Kerlan” A semester-long investigation that allows you to engage in research and develop your own project based on primary sources housed in the Kerlan: the world’s largest special collection of archival materials in the field of children’s and young adult literature.

CI 5404 “Multicultural Literature for Children and Adolescents” An exploration of contemporary multicultural literature as a site where difference can be emphasized and appreciated rather than downplayed or muted. We study award-winning works of fiction and arrive at a definition of multicultural literature for the modern classroom.

CI 5442 “Adolescent Literature, Youth Activism, and Climate Change Literacy” A course about how adolescent literature engages with the developmental and identity needs of a generation whose lives are framed by anthropogenic climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics, and other forms of slow violence inherent in the unsustainable carbon-intensive civilization. How can stories be part of young people’s fight for a sustainable future? What literature can mobilize youth activism against ecocide? Why is climate change literacy a fundamental right for adolescents today?

CI 8416 “Speculative Fiction, Radical Imagination, and Social Change.” A discussion seminar about how speculative fiction for the young reader serves as a catalyst for radical imagination that creates visions of social change. Why are we drawn to stories that interrogate dominant notions of reality and structures of meaning? How do these stories create activist sites of resistance against exclusion, systemic inequalities, and environmental degradation?

News Stories

Minneapolis Star Tribune - "Neil Gaiman says “American Goods” is rooted in Minnesota" – Apr 30, 2017

Minnesota Women’s Press: "U of M Center Helps K–12 Educators Teach Climate Change, One Story at a Time" – Jul 28, 2022


Oziewicz, M. (2022). Why Children’s Stories Are a Powerful Tool to Fight Climate Change. Yes! Magazine. Jan 14, 2022. 

Oziewicz, M. (2022). “It wasn’t us!”: Teaching about Ecocide and the Systemic Causes of Climate Change. In Young, R. (Ed.). Literature as a Lens for Climate Change: Using Narratives to Prepare the Next Generation. Rowland and Littlefield. 19-51.

Oziewicz, M. (2022). Planetarianism NOW: On Anticipatory Imagination, Young People’s Literature, and Hope for the Planet. In Paulsen, M., Jagodzinski, J. and Hawke, S.M. (Eds.). Pedagogy in the Anthropocene: Re-Wilding Education for a New Earth. Palgrave. 241-56. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-90980-2

Oziewicz, M. and Saguisag, L. Eds. (2021). Children’s Literature and Climate Change. A special issue of The Lion and the Unicorn. 45.2. doi:10.1353/uni.2021.0011

Oziewicz, M. (2021). Imagined Genocides, Multidirectional Memory, and Intergenerational Solidarity in Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine Trilogy. In Deszcz-Tryhubczak J. and Jacques, Z. (Eds.). Intergenerational Solidarity in Children’s Literature and Film. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. 130-143.

Oziewicz, M. (2021). From the Pedagogy of Fear to the Pedagogy of Empowerment: Re-Imagining Moral Agency in Children’s Literature. In Dybiec-Gajer, J., and Gicala, A. (Eds.). Mediating Practices in Translating Children’s Literature and Beyond. Peter Lang. 35-50.

Oziewicz, M. (2019). Truth-Telling, Trauma Fiction, and the Challenge of Critical Engagement: A Reading of Breaking Stalin’s Nose and A Winter’s Day in 1939. Children’s Literature in Education, 44(4), 1-15. doi: 10.1007/s10583-019-09396-3

Oziewicz, M. (2017). Speculative FictionOxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Web. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.013.78.

Oziewicz, M. (2015). Justice in Young Adult Speculative Fiction: A Cognitive Reading. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 987-1-138-80943-7. 257 p.

Oziewicz, M. (2008). One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy Series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle and Orson Scott Card. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN: 0786431350. 251 p.