Brown, Joanne 1933-
BROWN, Joanne 1933-
PERSONAL: Born February 27, 1933, in Des Moines, IA; daughter of Samuel (a food broker) and Mollie (a homemaker; maiden name, Leiserwitz) Hockenberg; married Milton Brown, August 15, 1955; children: Linda Brown Weber, Jay Edward, Bennett Joel. Ethnicity: "Polish/Lithuanian." Education: Northwestern University, B.S. (cum laude), 1955; attended University of Iowa, 1960; Drake University, M.A., 1969, D.Arts (with honors), 1980. Politics: "Moderate Democrat." Religion: Jewish Reformed. Hobbies and other interests: Drawing and painting, theater, swimming, boating.
ADDRESSES: Home—1708 Plaza Circle, Des Moines, IA 50322. Offıce—c/o Department of English, Howard Hall, Drake University, 2501 University, Des Moines, IA 50311; fax: 515-223-6458. E-mail—[email protected] drake.edu.
CAREER: Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, IA, instructor in English, speech, and drama, 1972-82, chair, Department of Communication and Humanities, 1982-84, dean of humanities and human services, 1984-87; Drake University, Des Moines, IA, visiting professor, 1987-88, assistant professor, 1988-94, associate professor of English and drama, 1994-2002. Hebei Teachers University, visiting professor, 1993. Des Moines Community Playhouse, member of board of directors, 1964-72, president, 1969-71; Des Moines Playhouse, education director, 1971-74, member of board of directors, 1992—, artistic vice president, 1996-97. Iowa Arts Council, artist in residence, 1980; Iowa Humanities Board, visiting scholar, 1993—; Iowa Board of Regents, speech writer; judge of writing contests; consultant to insurance companies and other organizations, including Heartland Education Agency. Member of board of directors, United Way and Family Services.
MEMBER: National Council of Teachers of English, Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, Iowa Council of Teachers of English (chair; president of College Section, 1983-85).
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow, Salzburg Seminar, 1996, 1999.
Presenting Katherine Lasky, Twayne Publications (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Nancy St. Clair) Declarations of Independence:Empowered Girls in Young Adult Literature, 1990-2001, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2002.
Contributor to books, including Intercultural Journeys, edited by Marilyn Smith Layton, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990. Contributor to periodicals, including New Advocate, ALAN Review, New Mexico English Journal, Issues in Writing, Iowa Woman, and Des Moines Register. Coeditor, Iowa English Bulletin, 1990-92.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Distant Mirror: Issues in Young Adult Historical Fiction, with Nancy St. Clair, for Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), completion expected in 2004; research on the development of historical fiction as a genre, challenges for readers and writers of genre, and contemporary issues addressed in novels for young adults.
SIDELIGHTS: Joanne Brown told CA: "Since third grade, when a teacher singled out my poem for reading in front of the entire class, I have been writing— first poetry, and then, more seriously, short fiction. I have been a student in the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and have taught many courses in writing fiction. However, upon joining the faculty of a university that requires academic publications, my attention shifted to articles and books on literature for young adults.
"This subject, one that I've taught for many years, snagged my interest on several counts, particularly as it reflects society's changing attitudes toward adolescence. Early in the twentieth century, novels such as Booth Tarkington's Penrod and Seventeen, portrayed adolescence with condescending, tolerant humor, ignoring the very real problems, pain, and confusion that so often mark this period of development. The most dramatic changes in young adult literature have occurred in the last thirty years or so.
"Earlier novels were set almost exclusively in white, secure communities, but now there are novels with which readers of many races and classes can identify. Topics that were once taboo, such as drug usage, parental abuse and neglect, sexual experiences, homosexuality, and poverty, are now common subjects. Likewise, the form of many novels for adolescents has undergone transformation. No longer is young adult literature necessarily narrated from a single point of view and structured in strict chronological order. Instead, borrowing from the fluid forms found more and more frequently in adult novels, many novels for younger readers shift back and forth in time, present their stories from multiple viewpoints, and employ the magic realism that first appeared in novels by South American writers.
"My book Declarations of Independence: Empowered Girls in Young Adult Literature, 1990-2001 was prompted by the changing portraits of young female protagonists in the genre. In contrast to their predecessors, who were concerned mainly with their appearance and ability to attract a desirable boy, the protagonists in today's young adult literature include some very strong young women involved in social issues whose focus transcends fixation on being thin, 'in,' and fashionable. These fictional characters provide strong role models for today's teenagers.
"I am currently coauthoring a study of young adult historical fiction. The thesis is that historical fiction reflects more the attitudes of the period in which it was written than the period of its subject. My coauthor and I are analyzing a range of young adult historical novels that address such contemporary issues as race, class, gender, nationality, war, the immigrant experience, and sexual orientation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September, 2002, Sean Kinder, review of Declarations of Independence: Empowered Girls in Young Adult Literature, 1990-2001, p. 172.
Choice, October, 2002, S. A. Inness, review of Declarations of Independence.
School Library Journal, October, 2002, Dana McDougald, review of Declarations of Independence, p. 199.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2002, Hilary Crew, review of Declarations of Independence, p. 418.