Cara Byrne’s teaching and research interests are centered around studying literary and visual texts, exploring race, gender, and age. Her current book project, Illustrating the Smallest Black Bodies: The Creation of Childhood in African American Children’s Literature, 1836–2015, analyzes visual representations of black childhood in picture books. She investigates how images communicate belief systems, function in a different rhetorical framework than works created chiefly for adult audiences, and redefine previously constructed visual statements, ultimately affecting larger assumptions about American childhood and racial identity.
She has published articles on visual rhetoric in ImageTexT and matrophobia in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, and has several forthcoming articles, including an analysis of adapted picture books based on Zora Neale Hurston’s anthropological writings in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. Prior to earning her PhD and MA in English at Case Western Reserve University, she earned a BA in English and a BS in secondary education at Bowling Green State University and worked at an educational non-profit in Akron, Ohio.