- Arts and Humanities
- Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
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An alumna is Pitt's second Erasmus Mundus winner
Maria Anto has always been passionate about children’s literature, particularly the subject’s history and media. After earning a children’s literature certificate at Pitt when she graduated in 2022, she looked abroad to continue her studies.
Now, she's the second person at Pitt to receive a 2023-2025 Erasmus Mundus award, which will allow her to complete her master's in children’s literature at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. There, she'll participate in the university’s Erasmus Mundus International Master’s in Children’s Literature, Media and Culture program.
The two-year program is run by the European Union, and Anto is the only U.S. citizen among 16 participants in the children's literature program.
Anto headed to Glasgow on Sept. 7. From there, she’ll visit a different university each semester, starting in the spring with Aarhus University in Denmark; the University of British Columbia in Canada during the summer; and Wroclaw University in Poland next fall.
In this program, she’ll be studying the field of children’s literature, media and culture with a focus on the historical trajectory of children’s texts and their larger societal impacts. These texts include novels, films, picture books and informational texts.
Her research will also consider interactions between children and adults, pragmatic applications for these texts and their potential to raise cultural and social awareness, and the development and promotion of multicultural texts.
She can choose to spend her final semester at any university involved in the Erasmus Mundus program.
While attending these schools, she'll take language courses and focus on children’s literature, media and culture. After the program concludes, she will have the opportunity to work in children’s publishing or a children’s librarianship position.
Since December 2022, Anto has worked as a library services specialist at the University Library System (ULS).
She graduated from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in April 2022 with a bachelor's in English writing and a minor in film and media studies. She also completed the children's literature certificate.
Though the Children's Literature Program was created in 1981, Pitt is a pioneer in childhood studies. The University has taught courses about children’s literature since the early 1930s.
Pitt faculty, graduate students and undergraduates have gone on to study at prestigious children’s literature programs and, by 2010, had earned every major writing and research prize given out by the national Children’s Literature Association.
This includes the Carol Gay Award for undergraduate writing, the Graduate Student Essay Award and the ChLA Article and Book awards.
Additionally, ULS is the home of the Elizabeth Nesbitt Collection, which comprises a collection of more than 12,000 items — including books, magazines, audio-visual material, manuscripts and artifacts — from the 1600s to the present day.
While at Pitt, Anto received the David C. Fredrick Public Service Internship Award during her junior year. She also interned that year in children’s programming at GBH Kids in Boston, where she worked on shows such as “Molly of Denali” and the last season of “Arthur.”
“It was so cool,” she said about her internship. “And it allowed me to be both artistic and creative, but also critical. And it's also important … because maybe TV isn't the best medium for kids to be spending all their time with. But the reality is that a lot of people are watching television. So, it's important that we make it educational and informative and diverse.”
During her senior year, as an Archival Scholar Research Awards (ASRA) scholar, she studied puppetry in Pittsburgh. She discovered her love for children's puppetry while using the children's archives.
Anto credited Pittsburgh director Margo Lovelace and her puppet dramas that captured life in the city as the other source of inspiration that pushed her to explore the field of children’s literature.
“It was really magical and special,” Anto said. “And I got to sort through the scripts and the photos and the videos and just seeing that art form come to life, and Pittsburgh, was really special.”
Anto thanked her co-workers at ULS and people in the Children’s Literature Certificate Program for their support and for helping her draft her personal statement for the program.
“It just kind of came full circle,” Anto said. “I had really fallen in love with the study of children's archives the at the library, and then I found out while working at the library as a full-time staff member.”
— Donovan Harrell, photography courtesy of Anto