Photo of Julie C. Garlen (On Sabbatical)

Julie C. Garlen (On Sabbatical)

Co-Director (Childhood and Youth Studies), Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Associate Professor

Phone:613-520-2600 x 6044
Office:Dunton Tower 2204

Research Interests:

• Childhood
• Early Childhood Education
• Popular Culture
• Cultural Curriculum Studies

Current Research:

My work in cultural curriculum studies has contributed to an area of educational scholarship called “public pedagogy,” which is premised on the idea that culture is related to power and functions symbolically, institutionally, and materially as an educational, political, and economic force. Children’s popular culture, which has been the focus of much of my work, is an important site for exploring these dynamics; it both reflects and shapes the structures of power that govern education, industry, and everyday life. Popular culture is pedagogical; it provides us with narratives, metaphors, and images that teach us into particular ways of relating to ourselves and to others.  These themes were the focus of two books I edited with Jennifer Sandlin in 2016: Teaching with Disney ( and Disney, Culture and Curriculum (

My interest in the ways cultural discourses shape the lives of children through ideologies of race, class, gender, and sexuality inform my current work in critical childhood studies, including a funded SSHRC Insight Development Grant with Dr. Lisa Farley, of York University, Dr. Sandra Chang-Kredl, of Concordia University, and Dr. Debbie Sonu of Hunter College (U.S.). We are exploring practical and theoretical links between pre-service teachers’ memories and contemporary conceptualizations of childhood in order to better understand how they think about, plan for, and imagine the children they teach.

As part of my contribution to the grant, I am working to understand how the myth of childhood innocence has informed work with children within the context of the United States and Canada, such as how adult investments in childhood innocence work against processes of truth and reconciliation in early childhood care and education in settler colonial contexts. I believe that early childhood work can be a powerful force for reconciliation and social justice if we make issues of ability, gender, class, sexuality, migration status and linguistic, cultural and racial identity central in our efforts to improve the lives of children and youth.


2017: Jack Miller Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity, Georgia Southern University

2016: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Fellow, Georgia Southern University

2014: Jack Miller Award for Teaching, Georgia Southern University

2013: University Award for Excellence in Service, Georgia Southern University

2012: Jack Miller Award for Service, Georgia Southern University

Recent Publications:

Farley, L., Sonu, D., Garlen, J.C. & Chang-Kredl, S. (2021). How teachers remember their own childhoods affects how they challenge school inequities. The Conversation.

Sonu, D., Farley, L., Chang-Kredl, S., Garlen, J.C. (2020). The Dreamwork of Childhood Memory: The Futures Teachers Make from the Schooling Past, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 35:4, 15-26.

Ramjewan, N., Garlen, J.C. (2020) Growing out of childhood innocence, Curriculum Inquiry, 50:4, 281-290.

Garlen, J.C., Chang‐Kredl, S, Farley, L, Sonu, D. Childhood innocence and experience: Memory, discourse and practice. Child Soc. 2020; 00: 1– 15.

Farley, L., Sonu, D., Garlen, J.C, & Chang-Kredl, S. (2020). Childhood Memories of Playful Antics and Punishable Acts: Risking an Imperfect Future of Teaching and Learning, The New Educator, 16:2, 106-121.

Garlen, J.C. (2020). Coronavirus isn’t the end of ‘childhood innocence,’ but an opportunity to re-think children’s rights. The Conversation, April 6, 2020 

Garlen, J. C. (2019). ClassDojo raises concerns about children’s rights. The Conversation, February 25, 2019.

Garlen, J. C. (2018). Interrogating innocence: “Childhood” as exclusionary social practice. Childhood, 26(1), 54–67.

Garlen, J.C. and Sandlin, J.A. (2017). Happily (n)ever after: the cruel optimism of Disney’s romantic ideal. Feminist Media Studies, 10(15).

Garlen, J.C. and Sandlin, J.A. (2017). Magic everywhere: Mapping the Disney Curriculum. The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. 39(2).

Garlen, J.C., Kuh, L., and Coleman, B. (2017). Teaching for Social Justice in the Early Childhood Classroom (Commentary). Teachers College Record, March 27, 2017.

Farley, L. and Garlen, J.C. (2016). The child in question: Childhood texts, cultures and curricula. Curriculum Inquiry. 46(3).