Maria Sachiko Cecire
Maria Sachiko Cecire is a program officer for Higher Learning. Before joining the Mellon Foundation, she was the founding director of the academic concentration and Center for Experimental Humanities at Bard College, and associate professor of literature (currently on leave). She graduated from the University of Chicago before going on to the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. There she earned a master's in English medieval studies and a doctorate in English, which she completed in 2011.
Ms. Cecire's research addresses children's literature and youth culture, media and digital studies, medieval literature and its afterlives, and the role of the humanities in contemporary society. She is the author of Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children's Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century (2019), which explores transformations in Anglo-American popular culture in terms of institutional power, the legacies of racism and colonialism, and political and affective uses of childhood and the mythological past. She is also coeditor of Space and Place in Children's Literature, 1789–Present (2015), author of a number of articles and essays, and a member of the feminist digital humanities Data-Sitters Club project.
In addition to other publicly engaged scholarship, Ms. Cecire was a national project scholar for the American Library Association's Great Stories Club from 2014–2020; this program supports reading and discussion groups for underserved US teens, primarily in juvenile justice, alternative school, and youth outreach settings. She is currently at work on an interdisciplinary research project about the intellectual lives of so-called "at-risk" youth and their responses to young adult literature based on survey data from GSC participants.