Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SDSU Children's Lit at PAMLA

Children's Literature folks from SDSU are making a huge splash at PAMLA this year! Lucky for us, the conference is being held here in San Diego (at the Bahia in Mission Bay, to be exact) and is free for SDSU students and faculty. We welcome you at all of the following events, taking place from this Friday, Nov 1st- Sunday, Nov 3rd.

SDSU's National Center for the Study of Children's Literature is sponsoring the panel Stages of Life: Age, Identity, and Culture. Friend to the NCSCL Kenneth Kidd will first present "The Age of Beginners," followed by Katherine Kinney presenting "Aging Badly: The Exemplary Case of Marlon Brando" and Martin Kevorkian presenting "The American Renaissance Enters the Iron Decade: Melville and Company on the Voyage of Life." This is an exciting panel that will appeal to those studying children's lit, childhood studies, or those interested in cultural studies more broadly. We'll see you there on Saturday, Nov 2nd from 5-6:40pm in Mission Bay Ballroom C.

One of the coolest cats at SDSU and Director of the NCSCL, our own Joseph Thomas will be reading on the SDSU Faculty Writers and Poets panel on Sunday from 12-1:30pm. Mission Bay Ballroom C- don't miss it!

There are three panels dedicated exclusively to Children's Literature and another three specifically for YA Literature, organized by Presiding Officers Lauren Benard and Megan Parry. There will also be several panels that aren't necessarily categorized by children's lit, but feature children's lit scholars or topics- so explore the schedule thoroughly. As for SDSU's children's lit presence at PAMLA, I've highlighted SDSU affiliates in the following panels:

  • Global Perspectives on Death in Children's Literature: Friday, 9-10:30am, Del Mar Room. Panel includes a presentation by 2nd-year MA candidate specializing in children's literature, Alan Chihwaro. Alan's paper is titled "Beyond the Last Visible Clockwork: Death and Circular Time in Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child." 
  • Children's Literature I: Friday, 10:45am-12:15pm, Del Mar Room. MA candidate Lauren Benard chairing. Panel will also include a presentation by 2nd-year MA candidate specializing in children's lit, Alixandria Lombardo. Alixandria will present "JonArno Lawson Subverts the Traditional in his Children's Poetry."
  • Children's Literature II: Friday, 1:45-3:15pm, Del Mar Room. Chaired by the aforementioned Alixandria Lombardo, this panel includes presentations by Alya Hameed and Kelsey Wadman, both 2nd-year MA candidates specializing in children's literature. Alya will present "Circular Innocence: Locating the Children's Tale in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'Tales for Children.'" Kelsey will present "The Interior Landscape of Kinship in Russell Hoban's A Mouse and His Child."
  • Children's Literature III: Friday, 3:30-5pm, Del Mar Room. Kelsey Wadman will chair. This panel includes a presentation by our very favorite MA program director, and awesome well-known scholar of children's literature, Dr. June Cummins. Professor Cummins will present "Girls in Bloomers: The Age of the New Woman in Sydney Taylor's Children's Fiction."
  • Cognitive Approaches to Literature I: Saturday, 10:15-11:45am, Studio 605. Children's lit professor Mary Galbraith will present "Reading Without Spoilers: Why Creating One’s Own Cognitive and Affective Structure is the Sine Qua Non of Literary Reading."
  • Young Adult Literature I: Saturday, 1:30-3pm, Del Mar Room. Chaired by Jill Coste, recent SDSU graduate and super-smart children's lit scholar.
  • Young Adult Literature II: Young Adult Women in YA Lit: Saturday, 3:15-4:45pm, Del Mar Room. Chaired by Alya Hameed.
  • Young Adult Literature III: Dystopian and Speculative YA Lit: Sunday, 8:30-10am, Del Mar Room. Chaired by Megan Parry and including a presentation by Jill Coste. Jill will present "A Biotech Birthday Suit: Ageless Identity in Young Adult Science Fiction." 
  • Crafting Childhood in Autobiographical Writing I: Sunday, 10:15-11:45am, Del Mar Room. Chaired by June Cummins and including a presentation by Lauren Benard. Lauren will present “The Kids Will Do It”: Children as a Vehicle for Social Change in Leslie Feinberg’s novel Stone Butch Blues."
  • Television Studies II: Sunday, 12-1:30pm, William D. Evans Level One. Megan Parry will present “Why? Because We Like You:” The Child Spectacle and the Commodification of Children in The Mickey Mouse Club and Toddlers & Tiaras."
The panels and events highlighted here are only a beginning to exciting scholarship intersecting with children's literature at PAMLA. There are also dozens of SDSU-affiliated scholars not mentioned here attending and presenting! Explore the schedule, and we'll see you there!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Two Child Lit Professor Openings

1. Assistant Professor Specializing in Children's Literature, Rowan University

The English Department at Rowan University has a tenure-track position for an Assistant Professor of children’s literature.  We are seeking broadly trained candidates prepared to teach courses in children’s literature and young adult literature as well as a foundation course for English majors, survey courses in U.S. literature and/or British literature, and seminars in area(s) of expertise.  Class size is typically 35 students or less.  A 3/3 teaching load is guaranteed for the first two years and can be renewed annually with evidence of continuing scholarship.  Course load will sometimes be split between the Glassboro campus and other nearby locations.  No Composition.  Departmental and university service is expected.  Initial interviews will be conducted at MLA.  The position begins September 1, 2014.

For more information and to apply, click here to visit view the listing.

2.   Professor of English Literature with focus on Postcolonial Literature, Université Laval (Quebec, CAN)

This opening calls for a professor specializing in postcolonial literature. It has a generalist component for the undergraduate level, at which we offer children's literature; at the graduate level we offer seminars in postcolonial literature, which the selected candidate could develop in his or her area of specialization. Description follows: 

The Département des littératures invites applications for an open-rank, tenure-track position in Postcolonial literatures   


- Teaching postcolonial literatures at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as teaching other English undergraduate courses as a generalist
- Supervising master’s theses and doctoral dissertations;
- Pursuing research in postcolonial literatures;
- Contributing to the administration of programs related to the teaching of English literatures
- Participating in departmental and university activities.


- PhD (or PhD near completion) written in English with specialization in postcolonial literatures in English;
- Research experience in postcolonial literatures (relevant publications or research grants);
- University teaching experience
- Ability to teach postcolonial literatures as a specialist at all levels and readiness to teach in English literatures as generalist at the undergraduate level;
-  Perfect command of oral and written English (teaching and research) and knowledge of French (participation in departmental activities);
-  Aptitude for teamwork;
-  Interest in teaching in a second language environment.

Assets would include an interest in comparative literature and an ability to make links between the   candidate’s area of specialization and that of the Canada Research

Chair in African Literatures and Francophonie (Francophone Postcolonial Literatures).

Please send a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, three recent letters of reference, and a published article by December 13, 2013 to:

Madame Chantal Hébert
Département des littératures
Pavillon Charles-De Koninck
Université Laval
Québec QC
G1V 0A6

No electronic applications will be accepted. All documents must be sent by the date indicated; all incomplete applications will be rejected.

Valuing diversity, Université Laval invites all qualified people to submit applications, in    particular women, visible minorities, Natives, and disabled peoples. Priority for this position will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.

Monday, October 28, 2013

NCSCL Colloquium Wednesday

Children's Lit folks will gather in HH 150 from 2:30-3:50pm on Wednesday, October 30th to share recent scholarship. Children's Lit grads and faculty welcome!

First, guest and Children's Lit scholar Lei Wang will talk about her work in China. Next Alya Hameed, Alixandria Lombardo, and Kelsey Wadman will preview papers they plan to present at PAMLA this weekend.

Alya Hameed will present "Circular Innocence: Locating the Children's Tale in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Tales for Children.'' 

Alixandria Lombardo will present: "JonArno Lawson Subverts the Traditional in His Children's Poetry"

Kelsey Wadman will present: "The Interior Landscape of Kinship in Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child"
See you there!

CFP: Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos: National Latino Children's Literature Conference

When: March 13-14, 2013

Where: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

Proposal Deadline: December 9th, 2013


This exclusive conference was created for the purpose of promoting high-quality children’s and young adult books about the Latino cultures and to offer a forum for librarians, educators, researchers, and students to openly discuss strategies for meeting the informational, educational, and literacy needs of Latino youth (children and teens) and their families. Featuring nationally-acclaimed Latino literacy scholars and award-winning Latino authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult books, this exclusive conference is truly an unforgettable experience.

Request for Proposals: In keeping with the recurring conference theme "Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos," we invite poster and program proposals that contribute to and extend existing knowledge in the following areas: Latino children’s and young adult literature, bilingual education, Latino family involvement in the school curriculum, Latino cultural literacy, library services to Latino children and their families, literacy programs utilizing Latino children’s literature, educational needs of Latino children, educational opportunities and collaborations with El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), Latino children’s responses to culturally-responsive literature, social influences of children’s media on Latino youth, Noche de Cuentos literacy programs in schools and libraries, creating cross-cultural connections with Latino children’s literature, and other related topics. Presentations and posters can share recent research or provide practical suggestions for current or preservice librarians and educators. The National Latino Children's Literature Conference is both a research and practitioner conference and proposals are peer reviewed.

Program Proposals: Programs can be a presentation of research  or  practical suggestions for teachers, librarians, and other educators. To submit your program proposal, please provide the following information:  a 250 word (maximum) abstract of your presentation along with the program title;  the name of the program organizer; the names of all presenters and their affiliations along with their preferred contact phone, email, and address; and your preferred presentation day (Thursday, Friday, or Either) to conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo at Please be sure to put “program proposal” in your subject heading.

Poster Proposals: Posters can be a presentation of research  or  practical suggestions for teachers, librarians, and other educators. To submit your poster proposal, please provide the following information:  the title of your poster; a 200 word (maximum) abstract of your poster; the subject of your poster (choose Literature/Media Studies, Programs & Services in Libraries, Educational & Literacy Strategies, or Exemplary Programs); your name and affiliation; your preferred contact phone, email, and address; and your preferred presentation day (Thursday, Friday, or Either) to conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo at Please be sure to put “poster proposal” in your subject heading. Easels will be provided for posters and additional information about poster size will be provided with the acceptance letters.

The deadline for proposal submissions is midnight December 9, 2013  with notification of acceptance on or before December 18, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

PAMLA Forum Sponsored by NCSCL - Stages of Life: Age, Identity, and Culture

The Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference (PAMLA) is less than a week away! This week we'll be highlighting some of our own that will be presenting and featured in the conference, but for now I wanted to share a special event sponsored by the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature.

In conjunction with PAMLA and Executive Director Craig Svonkin, the NCSCL is excited to sponsor a forum which should greatly appeal to anyone involved in or fascinated by the study of childhood, children's literature, and cultural studies more broadly. It's a free and open to the public too, so join us for this insightful off-campus event!

PAMLA Forum: Stages of Life: Age, Identity, and Culture 
When: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 5:00pm - 6:40pm (Mission Bay Ballroom C) 
Chair: Cheryl Edelson, Chaminade University of Honolulu

The Age of Beginners

Kenneth Kidd, University of Florida
The beginner has long been a dominant trope in education, literature, and popular culture, associated with the idiot/dummy, the student, and the child. The beginner may or may not be a child or child-like, thereby bringing to mind Robin Bernstein's proposed term "agequeer," used to refer to temporally non-conforming subjects. Drawing on children's literature, the children's philosophy movement, and select theory, this paper explores the "age of the beginner"—both an era and a developmental conceit.

Aging Badly: The Exemplary Case of Marlon Brando
Katherine Kinney, University of California, Riverside
Marlon Brando presaged the youthful rebellion that came to exemplify the culture of the baby-boomers. As his icon thrived in the 1960s, Brando began to age badly. His successes and failures over the next three decades tell us much about post-WWII narratives of masculine identity, maturity, success, and the richer pathos of failure.

The American Renaissance Enters the Iron Decade: Melville and Company on the Voyage of Life

Martin Kevorkian, University of Texas, Austin
As the major authors of the American Renaissance embarked upon their sixth decades, their writing took a turn away from the prophetic confidence that characterized their greatest hits. Focusing upon Melville, along with Stowe, Longfellow, Emerson, and Hawthorne, this presentation explores these authors's late fascination with both preaching and silence.

Once again, the forum is open to everyone, including SDSU students and faculty, with no expense. In fact, all the conference sessions are free for those interested in visiting and listening. So, come! Drop by! Attend! Keep in mind that presenters and chairs still have to pay the registration fees.

All the conference information is here:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thoughts for Your Weekend

Hopefully this weekend you are able to savor your coffee (or tea) slowly while sitting in one place instead of while you're driving to work or booking it across campus. Perhaps you'll even indulge in a stronger drink. Whatever beverage you choose to relax with, take the time to consider the following events, publications, and links.
  • There will be a symposium titled "California Indian Oral Tradition and the Land" taking place at SDSU Tuesday, November 5th. If you've enjoyed hearing about the intersections of children's lit and Indigenous lit (Columbus Day blog, memory in Rabbit-Proof Fence blog), or if you've been interested in the interactions between narrative and place, you should consider attending. The symposium will take place in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center from 10am-5pm and is free. 
  • Neil Gaiman fans: Back in August Waterstones Oxford along with Oxford Playhouse hosted an evening with Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman. Thankfully they recorded it! You can download a podcast of the discussion. Gaiman also gave a talk earlier this month for The Reading Agency in London. You can read and watch the full speech here
  • Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are was published in fall, 1963 making the book 50 years old! To celebrate the occasion a number of our favorite children's lit scholars have blogged about the book. Read posts by Phil Nel, Betsy Bird, Julie Walker Danielson, and Travis Jonker. I was tickled by the visual homages to Where the Wild Things Are in Bird's post. 
  • Clementine Beauvais wrote an indignant blog post titled "The Argument from Parenthood." She addresses the troublesome phenomenon of parents defending problematic texts at academic conferences for the sole reason that their children enjoyed the text under discussion. Hmm, I didn't know this happened... 
  • I also chuckled quite a bit while reading Beauvais's post "The Post-Doc Complex" in which she discusses the absurdity she's stumbled into upon finishing her PhD. Claiming she can now identify with Britany Spears' liminal state in 2001 of "not a girl, not yet a woman," Beauvais laments, "All I need is grants/ For conferences in France/ While I’m in-between… All I need is more/ Free access to JSTOR."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Multicultural Perspectives: Syria, Russia and the Potential of Children's Literature

One of the many long term tragedies of wars is the severe cultural loss. Whether by "cultural revolutions" or by the total destruction of a country amid civil war, this loss -- books, art, music, cultural representations and evocations in general -- bears down severe ramifications on its people, including a loss of identity and community and at times a complete misunderstanding or erasure of history itself.  I recently read a post on Mitali Perkins' blog, Mitali's Fire Escape, about her brief knowledge/awareness of contemporary Syrian children's literature (or rather, the struggle to find it). Originally, my intent was to search for children's literature in English with Muslim protagonists (featuring either Muslim American children or set abroad). Instead, I read this post and started to pour over the idea of what cultural loss does to children. I recommend reading through Mitali's post to learn about some literature already in existence and the efforts that emerge within refugee camps to give children a sense of identity once more. Children's books in this sense act purposefully to give children an opportunity to reclaim some notion of community (a valuable gift to refugees).

Philip Pullman recently discussed Stalin's purges and the resilient existence and purpose of children's literature during the Great Terror. Specifically, Pullman reviewed Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children's Literature 1920-1935, compiled and designed by Olga Budashevskaya and Julian Rothenstein. This book shares the striking and powerful images and stories of Russian artists and poets who turns to this genre (the child's picture book) to proliferate their political messages. Pullman does a wonderful job of explaining the power and innovation behind the texts and illustrations, but I am most fascinated by the way adults used children's lit in a totalitarian regime; essentially, children's lit became a safe place for subversive thought (and for the adult thinking these thoughts -- far fewer children's lit poets were arrested and killed during Stalin's rule than other authors).  We always talk about the safe spaces and dangerous places that exist within children's stories and what these mean for the child (character and reader). This examination can even extend to the spaces that emerge for "safe reading": cozy corners, treehouses, etc. But here we have the children's book serving as the ideal hiding place for adults. It's not a new concept, I know, but the extent to which this lasted is amazing, and is another reminder of how important and necessary children's lit can be, both for kids and grown ups.

This leads to my last link of the day, a brief essay on the transformative power of children's literature, particularly in committed and political books. In it, the author discusses the many ideological perspectives that the books are soaked in, such as: dismantling myths that adults create to "protect" children (e.g., from the realities of society and the existence of homelessness), instilling a drive and understanding for the need of revolution, or bringing awareness to economic issues, unions, and strikes. "Children's literature is a battleground between conserving the status quo and transforming it; between continuity and change."The child as disenfranchised and disempowered citizen becomes the ultimate tool this time, the overarching purpose behind the text, and the key figure who can act on the messages passed on by the authors and illustrators.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ISSCL Biennial Conference: Be Merry and Wise

Irish Society for the Study of Children's Literature
Biennial Conference

Theme: Be Merry and Wise: Children’s Literature from Chapbooks to the Digital Age.
Date: Friday 28th and Saturday 29th March 2014.
Venue: An Foras Feasa, NUI Maynooth.
Call for Papers

Children’s literature has always existed on a continuum between entertainment and instruction. Proposals are invited on the overall theme and associated topics in the context of both Irish and international literature for children, and also in relation to print and other media. Papers in both the Irish language and English language will be most welcome. Cuirfear fáilte roimh chainteanna as Gaeilge agus as Béarla.

Possible topics include but are not confined to:

  • Textbooks and children’s literature;
  • Children’s literature in the classroom;
  • Digital humanities and the study of children’s literature;
  • Safety and cautionary tales;
  • Youth culture and the media;
  • Retelling and repackaging;
  • The power of the visual;
  • Drama and performance;
  • The history of publishing for children.

Proposals of 300 words maximum should be sent to Dr. Anne Markey, ISSCL President.
 Subject line should read “ISSCL Proposal” to arrive no later than Monday 9th December 2013.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Power of Memory in Children's Literature

Recently I got wind of an event that took place last week at Hunter College called "The Art of Memory: A Roundtable Discussion." Memory and children's literature have cropped up in my thoughts a lot lately, especially considering some of the texts I've been reading. Since I wasn't able to make it to New York to attend the roundtable, perhaps hosting a discussion here can aid in sorting out my thoughts.

The role of memory in literature is a complicated thing in Doris Pilkington's Rabbit-Proof Fence. This book, about the incredible journey three Aboriginal girls undertook to get home from the boarding school of which they were forcefully placed, is considered by many- myself included- to be powerful and important and a great read. Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on the true story of Pilkington's own mother and aunts, who, as Pilkington stated in the introduction, "are anxious for their story to be published before they die" (xi). The book is testimony to the devastation that occurred in the 1930's when the Australian government insisted on the removal of children from their families because they were of mixed Aboriginal and white settler descent.

Pilkington lays out in her introduction the work involved in telling this story. She credits her mother and aunts for relaying their memories to her, and adds that she researched Australian documents and even, in her mind, made the same 1500 mile journey, trying to recreate a landscape that has either changed drastically or disappeared entirely. What Pilkington does not mention in her introduction is that she is trained in journalism- not in fiction writing. Her journalistic expertise was evident when she first brought the manuscript to The University of Queensland Press; at that time the manuscript was a strictly fact-based account of the trek. The press asked Pilkington to add narrative.

After first reading Rabbit-Proof Fence then considering the "fictionalization" of the manuscript, I am struck by two things. One is that this may be a prime example of cultural memory, since Pilkington embarks on a project that requires her to enter into nearly forgotten Aboriginal ways and to relay memories that are not personally hers. The passing-on of memory is fascinating (and a good reason to check out Second-Generation Memory and Contemporary Children's Literature: Ghost Images by Anastasia Ulanowicz, which I blogged about in an earlier post). Cultural memory is undoubtedly a poignant way of reclaiming what has been destroyed by imperialist agendas- but even more noteworthy is that childhood memories and/or the child protagonist via cultural memory is a powerful tool within this reclamation project. I'm thinking also of The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, which I mentioned briefly in my Columbus Day blog post.

Secondly, in the past I've pondered how childhood memories contribute to an adult author's ability to authentically portray childhood experience. It seems to me that retaining powerful and vivid childhood memories would bolster this ability; however, writing skill may contribute more to fictionalized accounts of childhood experiences. Skilled fiction writers often realistically relay roles that they do not inhabit, such as the experience of a protagonist of the opposite gender, or a protagonist of a different race... or any fictional element of a story for that matter. Skilled authors do portray childhood authentically and connect with child readers, even if they aren't very in touch with their own childhood memories. But, to be blunt, Pilkington is not what I consider a skilled fiction writer.

Her narrative in Rabbit-Proof Fence is often disrupted by her inability to to reconnect with her child self. Pilkington speaks of accessing her childhood in the introduction, claiming that the attempt to write through the eyes of a child was, for her, difficult. She states, "The task of reconstructing the trek home from the settlement has been both an exhausting and interesting experience...I found it necessary to become a ten-year-old girl again in order to draw on my own childhood memories of the countryside surrounding the settlement" (xii). Pilkington's book is- as I stated earlier- powerful and important and a great read. This is an unusual discrepancy; I don't know that I've ever come across a book that I admire and enjoy, but do not consider beautifully written. I wonder- is the power of memory behind the success of Rabbit-Proof Fence?

I guess in the end attempting to measure the contributions of memory and skill in a piece of fiction is a bit like getting caught up in the nature vs. nurture argument: messy! We can theorize for decades but in the end it's a tangled web of influences from both that contribute to a (subjective) end result. That being said... I still find memory an area of study particularly fruitful and interesting for children's literature scholars.

One of the panelists from last week's roundtable is a children's literature scholar who is studying memory and children's literature, albeit differently than the discussion I've presented here. Alison Waller, author of Constructing Adolescence in Fantastic Realism, is currently working on a book about how adults renegotiate relationships with books from their past. I've been doing some of this renegotiating myself as I lately reread Little House on the Prairie. The book was a favorite of mine as a child, one that I hadn't touched in about two decades. Asked to recall my childhood reaction to the scene in which Laura demands that Pa get her an Indian baby for keeping, I ashamedly admitted to thinking it was along the same lines as really, really wanting a new doll. My child self sympathized with Laura! However, my adult awareness of absurd and downright racist depictions of American Indians in pioneer literature is forcing me to renegotiate, or maybe reconsider, my childhood love for the Little House series. As I gain appreciation for the problem of misrepresentations of indigenous peoples in literature, will there be (or should there be) room left in my adult self to love Little House on the Prairie? 

*Thank you Alya Hameed, Lydia Heberling, and Prof. Cummins for listening to all my half-formed thoughts

Monday, October 21, 2013

CFP: ICFA 35, "Fantastic Empires"

The International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) 35 
"Fantastic Empires"
Marriott Orlando Airport Hotel
March 19-23, 2014 
Deadline: October 31, 2013 

The Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Art Division of the ICFA welcomes papers on any aspect of the fantastic, broadly defined, in Literature, Art, Drama, Film, and Popular Media. This year, we are particularly interested in topics related to our theme, Fantastic Empires. From space operas to medieval tales to seminal works of fantasy, imaginative fiction abounds in fabulous empires. ICFA 35 will investigate the widest range of topics relating to empire, including
discussions of particular texts, analyses of the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic forces of empire, evaluations of individual resistances to imperialism (and of empires striking back), and assays
into various other aspects of the theme. We welcome proposals for scholarly papers and panels that seek to examine, interrogate, and expand any research related to empire and the fantastic.

In addition to essays examining our honored Guests’ work, conference papers might consider specific fantastic empires, imaginative imperial fantasies, the semiotics of empire, fantastic diasporas and
migrations, margins and liminal space(s), media empires, technologies of empire, speculative post-nationalism, fantastic Others, myth and empire, geographical/ideological mapping, transnational trauma, the construction/constriction of identity, or the multiple metaphors of empire. Panels might discuss various theories of empire, postcolonialism and the fantastic, language and imperialism, cosmopolitanism in the actual cosmos, Orientalism in classic texts, horrific hordes in film, dystopian empires, or postmodern theory and empire.

This division is particularly interested in representation of fantastic empires around the above themes in works for children, adolescents, teens, and/or young adults.

The deadline for submitting proposals is October 31.

For more information on the IAFA and its conference, the ICFA, contact
Alaine Martaus (CYA Division Head) at or visit the
organization’s website To submit a
proposal, go to

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CFP: On the Move, In the World... Mobility and Young People

A One-day Conference Organized by the Association for Research in Cultures of Young People in partnership with ACCUTE

WHERE: At the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Brock University, Ontario, Canada

WHEN: May 27, 2014

PROPOSAL DEADLINE: November 1, 2013

Mobility and young people: taken together, these terms produce both anxiety and possibility. On the move in the world, young people are widely perceived to be in danger or at risk. Yet young people’s mobility may also be aspirational or generative, as adventure, transformation, good fortune, and border-crossings of all kinds can effect changes in status and re-orientations of consciousness and identity. Further, the narratives circulated by and for those youth are themselves subject to revisions once they, too, have been put in motion. And the very thought of young people’s mobility puts us in the realms of affect and embodiment, of ability and impairment. Affect raises questions about the emotional landscape of the young people so moved, how young people are deployed in a variety of media to move adults, and the ways in which we map and describe our attachments to those cultural objects we find to be moving. The body in motion invites us to think of childhood in terms of kinesthetics, choreography, and ideologies and architectures of enablement, while the very idea of mobile youth asks us to consider spatio-temporal relationships: how young people move through space and time, measuring time by space and vice versa. All of these ways of thinking about mobility in the context of youth cultures take various narrative, political, aesthetic, and conceptual forms— narratives that are, themselves, subject to movement and therefore subject to revision, reconsideration, subversion, and change. Mobility itself might be seen to generate new youth movements—opening up ways to think about the cultures of young people and for young people to move our sense of culture. ARCYP invites proposals for papers (or panels) that consider any and all facets of young people’s mobility/movement. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CHLA Panel: Authenticity, Artifacts, and Publishing Patterns in MultiCultural Texts

The following CFP sounds incredibly appealing and intriguing to me, falling within my curiosity and exploration for multicultural depictions in children's texts and media. Really looking forward to what this panel becomes. (I have a pile of books dealing with Middle Eastern cultures that I'd want to examine through these questions, but that will have to wait for when I'm not spread so thin among great projects already.)

Call for Papers: Authenticity, Artifacts, and Publishing Patterns in Multicultural Texts

The Diversity Committee of the Children’s Literature Association is seeking papers for its sponsored panel at the ChLA 2014 Conference to be held in Columbia, South Carolina, June 19-21.  (For more information on the conference, visit the ChLA conference website at

We are looking for papers that address how “other” cultures are represented in translated, multi-cultural, and cross-cultural texts. Are texts considered “authentic” if they do not conform to common expectations regarding the representation of minority or foreign cultures? Do mainstream perceptions of “authenticity” realistically represent “other” cultural points of view? Does referencing quotidian cultural behaviors, which would not be noted by members of the culture itself, reflect a tendency to treat other cultures as anthropological subjects? Have certain artifacts, narrative structures and themes appeared repeatedly, and through repetition, come to signify authenticity? Have identifiable patterns come to be the publishing and literary equivalents of museum artifacts under glass?

Questions? Contact Claudia Pearson,
Email your 500-word abstract and 2-page CV by 30 November 2013, attaching it in .rtf, .doc, or .docx format, and including your email and phone number.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Columbus Day

Finding a few articles (The Atlantic, The American Scholar) asserting that Columbus Day is to celebrate American diversity, I interpreted their claim as an opportunity to share some amazing literature on my reading list:

Just finished: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Having heard a lot about this book, I finally read it a few weeks ago. After the great expectations set up by the media I had a difficult time getting into the book... until about halfway in. Specifically I was hooked after the basketball game in the chapter titled "Reindeer Games." No spoilers from me, but after that chapter I was invested. It's an amazing book; I recommend it for all. I also congratulate Alexie for the status that comes with the censorship. It's not the worst thing to be challenged on par with Judy Blume's Deenie.

Just started: The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. A couple of chapters in, and I'm in love with the protagonist, Omakayas. Pronounced "Oh-MAH-kay-ahs," Erdrich writes in the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, "Dear reader, when you speak this name out loud you will be honoring the life of an Ojibwa girl who lived long ago." Erdrich and her sister linked the book to an effort to support indigenous language revitalization by beginning The Birchbark House Fund.

Next on my list: Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and No Parole Today by Laura Tohe. Both books are set in boarding schools. Lately I've been pondering formalized education's role in simultaneously empowering and oppressing children (for an introduction to the "oppressing" side of things, see this clip from the film Schooling the World and Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity).

A cool blog: American Indians in Children's Literature by Debbie Reynolds. Reynolds is the leading scholar on American Indians in children's lit and maintains this blog as a way of making her scholarship accessible to teachers, parents, and students. It's been cited in the Handbook of Research on Children's and Young Adult Literature edited by Shelby Anne Wolf, Karen Coats, and Patricia Encisco, published in 2010 and The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature by Julia L. Mickenberg and Lynne Vallone, published in 2011. I recommend starting with reading her thought-provoking post "Dear Jon Scieszka: I've got a bone to pick with you..."

My weekend reading: This article in Indian Country Today titled "Native History: Columbus- Icon and Genocidal Maniac- Lands in New World." Author Christina Rose asks, "...what is it about American culture that resists the truth more than 500 years later? Has it simply become a western tradition to do so?" She also cites and complicates the very articles I linked above.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thoughts for Your Weekend

As you're taking a breather from the busy weekdays, here are a few things to mull over:

1. Congratulations to our own NCSCL Director, Dr. Joseph Thomas, for the publication of his article in Slate:  "Executors or Executioners?: Why can't my biography of Shel Silverstein quote the works of Shel Silverstein? His censorious estate." Thomas discusses the many complications involved in obtaining permission to reproduce work and the negative impact of this complex process on scholarship. It's an article highly significant for those who consider themselves scholars, and perhaps more significant for those who don't, since Thomas's solution includes attention to the problem from those inside and outside the world of academia.

2. Alya wrote in an earlier post that the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University is accepting applications for two positions:  Assistant Professor (tenure-track) and Associate Professor (tenured) of Childhood Studies to commence on September 1st, 2014. For those of you considering applying, priority is given to applications filed by Nov. 7th, 2013.

3. PAMLA is fast approaching! From Friday, November 1st through Sunday, November 3rd, the 11th annual conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association will be held here in San Diego- at the Bahia in Mission Bay to be exact. Travelling to conferences is usually pricey, so San Diego residents should take advantage. There will be several children's lit panels, and a handful of SDSU students presenting papers (more on this later!). Mark your calendars!

4. The City of San Diego opened the doors to the new Central Library last week! A project 30 years in the making, it's an enormous, dome-topped building downtown with a breathtaking view. It features a large children's section, a teen-only room, and on the top floor- a beautiful space for rare books! A high school is housed on the 6th and 7th floors, and there will be two centers for individuals with disabilities- one for adults and another for children. My favorite place was the Helen Price Reading Room on the 8th floor, which had overstuffed chairs facing the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bay. You can read this article by SD News and find more press here, or check out a time-lapse video of the library's construction. Another super-cool thing: a Lego model of the building.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Resources at the Children's Lit Center

You may not know that the office for the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature is located in Arts & Letters 218. And if you weren't aware of the location, you probably didn't realize how many great resources reside here. In truth, the NCSCL has a plentiful and growing repository of books and resources, especially useful for graduate students getting their feet wet in the field of children's literature. Some of this cool stuff includes:
  •  A huge collection of current picture, middle grade, and young adult books that publishers send to us for possible review by our book review service. Many of these are eventually sent over to SDSU's Love Library to add to the wonderful Juvenile Collection; some are sent to local schools as well. This program has been going on for years, and we have amassed more books than we can handle! 
  • In fact, students and alumni are all welcome to drop by and check out a book to review. We encourage it and would love to post your response and thoughts on the books you choose. Drop by or send an email to to find out when we are around.
  • We have many scholarly books that serve as great resources, for graduate students in particular. And as Kelsey mentioned earlier, once the Unjournal begins the process of requesting books for review, the resources in the center office will undoubtedly grow with current academia too.
  • You'll find a few theses from former children's lit grad students shelved here as well. If you have chosen (or are debating the choice) to embark on that journey instead of SDSU's portfolio option, you would certainly benefit from examining a few of them. What better way to learn what it entails than to hold a hefty, bound complete work in your hands.
  • Lastly, two earnest grad assistants inhabit the office and thrive off the friendly hello once in a while amidst studying, working, and office hours. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Local Bookstore Highlight: 5th Ave Books

5th Ave Books is a large used book store in Hillcrest. They are amply supplied with children's and YA books, and are very well organized by author's last name. I have shopped here for specific books often, and am usually pleased to find them. The clerks are extremely well-read and can usually direct me toward exactly what I am looking for. I also tend to come across treasures I wasn't looking for- like this Gangsta Rap Coloring Book.

The only slightly negative thing I have to say is that they are a bit pricey for used books. While Baras Thrift Shop will sell you any paperback book for 50 cents, be prepared to pay $4-6 for paperback novels here. It's still cheap compared to new books, and worth it to shop somewhere that is knowledgeable and well-stocked.

Monday, October 7, 2013

ChildLit Cartography: The Death of Yorik Mortwell

A recent book review by Philip Nel on The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon by S. S. Taylor reminded me instantly of two things: how much I enjoyed the mystery and wonder of that story, and how enraptured I was with the artistry of the book.  If you haven't read or even seen it, I highly recommend you explore this adventure novel; each visual aspect of it (illustrated by Katherine Roy) -- the illustrations, the cover, the sketches hidden on the inside of the cover -- deserves attention because of how cunningly it tricks the reader into exploring the heartiness of the book itself. My eyes feasted on this novel, especially upon the map included on the inner flap/binding (I need to brush up on the jargon of book parts, I know). Beautifully rendered and an integral part of the story, the map for me was the most exciting feature to the point that I actually felt frustration at not being able to hold it myself.

Hmm, I was going to differentiate this frustration from that of wanting a Marauder's Map, which DEMANDS interaction, play, and clandestine exploits. However, I really did want to play with this one as well, for reasons I won't share lest I spoil the story for you. That is, in fact, how much I enjoyed the role of the map and the book itself. It invites the reader into the tale and allows us to explore with the characters in ways that I haven't experienced in a long while, if ever.

Perhaps I just need to read more books with maps. This shall be my new endeavor. 

I don't exaggerate either; most of my peers could tell you how invested I have become in the role and influence of the maps that pop up in children's literature. Thus, I have decided to share some of these cool features as I discover them -- sometimes playful, sometimes morbid, often misleading, always provocative.

So I begin with a spotlight on the map from The Death of Yorik Mortwell, by Stephen Messer, illustrated by Gris Grimly.

Without knowing the novel itself, you could examine this map and cultivate your own story. Maps have a history after all; the cemeteries would certainly indicate as much here. Perhaps you might wonder why the servants' cemetery is placed outside the boundary of a river or consider how many servants would have died on this property. Well, I'm not spoiling anything by saying that young Yorik dies (his titular death is just the beginning of a haunting adventure!) but he's just one.

When I see maps I wonder about what I might glean from it (e.g., shooting range next to the aviary glade? How convenient). Sometimes I wonder about who is envisioning this map within the textual universe itself -- which character do I perceive to have potentially conjured this up? And does that shape the map? A resident of the manor would not necessarily include the run down cabin, for example. But by existing, it suddenly plays a part and we hopefully will recognize that.

Thus, on the surface this seems a map like any other. But the curiosities emerge when you force yourself to question why a lovely topiary garden would be so far removed, but a dreaded hedge maze exist right next to the manor. Curious questions can lead to deeper understandings. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

CFP: Seventeenth Biennial Conference on Literature and Hawaii's Children

Submit proposals to a small but rewarding upcoming conference. Conference registration is free!

When: June 5-7th, 2014
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
Conference Theme: "Beyond the Moon: Journeys Imaginary and Real"
Keynote Speakers: Kathi Appelt, National Book Award Finalist for The Underneath; Grace Lin, Newbery Honor Book Recipient for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon 
Session Proposals Due: December 5, 2013

The Biennial Conference on Literature and Hawai`i's Children, scheduled for June 5-7, 2014, is again calling for session proposals. The conference seeks to bring together academics, teachers, librarians, writers and would-be writers, illustrators and would-be illustrators, storytellers, parents, grandparents, teens, and children, indeed, anyone with an interest in children's literature. As such, unlike most academic conferences, we expect all sessions to allow for audience participation. You must present your session interactively, not simply read a paper. Sessions are free to attendees, except for professional sessions offered by the keynote speakers, for which we charge a small fee. Sessions are 75 minutes long. A session may consist of an individual presenter or be shared by a panel, normally of no more than 3 presenters. 

The conference is made up of three strands, "Interpreting Literature," "Using Literature," and "Creating Literature," in addition to a "Teen Track" for teenage writers and illustrators and a program of children’s and family activities. Teen track participants are encouraged to attend any sessions that appeal to them, in addition to attending a targeted session with the keynote author or illustrator, open to teens only. The "Interpreting" strand emphasizes ways of reading children’s literature, primarily from a humanities perspective. We are looking for people, mostly with an academic background (including graduate students), who can do a good job "translating" their specialist knowledge into a form suitable for a general audience. "Using" sessions approach literature from the perspective of teachers, librarians or parents, focusing on innovative ways to work with children’s books directly with children; "Creating" sessions usually come from authors, illustrators, or editors. Participants attend sessions across strands according to personal interests, so audiences are likely to be mixed.

"Interpreting Literature" strand proposals to: Todd Sammons,
"Using Literature" strand proposals to: Vicky Dworkin,
"Creating Literature" strand proposals to: Sue Cowing,

There is no specific form to use for proposals. Please include session title, description (75-150 words), your name, affiliation, and contact information (e-mail, snail mail, phone, and fax). Use more words if you need to.  In general, proposals should be brief, a half-page to a page. However you may attach a vita or other supplemental information if you wish. Let us know something about your previous experience in presenting at conferences or in other settings.

Preliminary information on the upcoming conference will be available shortly; check out last year's conference program for an idea of the structure of this conference. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Comics Overload with Comic Fest and Comic Day

The first weekend of October is all about superheroes, villains, and the graphic wonder of comic books. First, the Second Annual San Diego Comic Fest starts today and runs all weekend long (Oct 4-6). I talked about it last year, as an endeavor to reconnect with the folks who created what has now become the SD Comic Con (though this event is not affiliated with Comic Con). For a more "friendly, intimate" experience, you really should consider checking this out. I was happy to see that among the artists to participate in Artist Alley is Eric Shanower, who Dr. Griswold mentioned in his interview with The Unjournal this summer.

Secondly, evidently the first Saturday of October has been dubbed "24-Hour Comics Day", wherein people around the world accept the challenge to create a full 24-page comic in 24 consecutive hours. First dreamed up by Scott McCloud, this event has spawned into a global phenomenon. The very idea of it astounds me. In fact, those who in some way succeed in these timed challenges to create work, such as NaNoWriMo, humble me in their confident and determined purpose; I simply cannot find the time to write a novel in a month, or even conceive a full comic in a day. It's the process that must be so invigorating, and I'm sure allows people to then reflect on what they've created to see if it can be developed beyond that time. Anyway, it's cool stuff, so I'm sharing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

CFP: Enchanted Places, Imagined Childhoods

"Enchanted Places”, Imagined Childhoods
 A Symposium on Children’s Literature and Psychoanalysis

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania

Featured Author:  Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli has been writing books for more than thirty years and has published an average of one book a year over that time.  Maniac Magee (1991) won the Newbery Award and Wringer (1997) was a Newbery Honor recipient.  More recent titles include Stargirl (2000), Milkweed (2003) and Hokey Pokey (2013). In a blend of gritty realism and casual magic, Spinelli locates his stories in the places where ordinary children live—old cities, dreary suburbs and school classrooms—then enchants these places with transcendent language and characters who radiate courage and bold eccentricity.  His stories confront difficult and conflictual themes like poverty, homelessness and urban race relations, as well as mourning and social ostracism, but they do so without sentimentality.  Spinelli’s characters are never victims, but are tough survivors and often moral and spiritual heroes in his and their imagined worlds.

It is a challenge to psychoanalytic theory and practice to acknowledge the “enchanting” role of language on a day to day basis as we practice our “talking cure,” as well as to go beyond our normative developmental narratives in order to account for the survivors, the exceptions, and the morally courageous characters who have emerged from difficult environmental circumstances to transform their own lives and the lives of others in the process. 

This symposium will provide an opportunity for explorations of language, of ‘enchantment’ in psychoanalysis and literature; of the reciprocal acts of imagination between author and reader involved in creating works of childrens’ literature; and,  the possibilities for transformation of the painful realities of ordinary childhood in both psychoanalysis and literature.  It will provide a forum for Jerry Spinelli’s work, for the work of other authors, as well as for works of theoretical, clinical and literary interest. Academics, psychoanalysts, graduate students and psychoanalytic candidates are encouraged to submit original papers on any aspects of the above.

Guidelines for submission:
Completed papers only. 8-10 pp.  No abstracts or proposals.
Names and identifying information on separate cover sheet only.
Deadline: February 15, 2014
Send papers to:  Elaine Zickler, PhD at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Local Bookstore Highlight: Adams Ave Books

San Diego hosts a great deal of independent bookstores, all with a unique vibe. Local bookstores are often venues for amazing events- a point of access to the vibrant children's lit community here in San Diego.

My favorite will always be my neighborhood shop, Adams Ave Book Store. This two-story used bookstore has been in business since 1965, making its home in an old residential building. With a wink at their customers recipes books are in the kitchen, and at the back of the first floor you will find the children's room (pictured). Books are organized and alphabetized to make searches for specific books easy, but, as actual children also buy books here, many books are piled on the floor or tables. Adams Ave Books certainly has recent and popular books, but also makes a point to carry older, collectible books.

Because of my Indigenous and Decolonization Lit class a first edition collection of colonist-slanted titles like Maori and Settler and The Young Colonist caught my eye. A little research revealed that the author was G.A. Henty, a 19th century author who wrote war adventure stories (obviously marketed for boys), some informed by his firsthand experience as a soldier for British imperialism. Henty has been studied critically; a 1991 article in Children's Literature Association Quarterly by Mawuena Logan states that "When we study the works of Henty we are in touch with racial myths that have yet to be fully dismantled" (Children's Lit Quarterly, Volume 16, No 2, 1991). In any case, I couldn't afford the whole collection but I will be returning to look at Henty more closely.

I recommend following Adam's Ave Books on Facebook- they often post when they get new and interesting merchandise or advertise discounts- in the past they've offered discounts to college students the month before a new semester begins.

Adams Ave Books is inhabited by two cats, Bartleby (pictured) and Felixia.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reading for Boys and Girls, Or the Legitimacy of Girliness

First, a quick announcement that, for the Fall 2013 semester, the NCSCL is offering tutoring to undergraduates taking children's lit courses at SDSU. The scheduled hours are Mon 2-3 pm and Wed 11:45-12:45 pm, but students can also request appointments by emailing They MUST include "tutoring" in the subject line.

So, last year I was perusing some book review blogs, and came across one (author and title have since escaped me, lucky for them) that completely turned me off because the story and the review clearly typecasted girls into the role of princesses and boys into the role of adventurers. I distinctly recall the marketing on the website as speaking to the gender-inclusive merits of the book, something that could appeal to both boys and girls. I also distinctly recall that I was most annoyed by the fact that girls were evidently not meant to seek out wild and crazy adventures; those activities were reserved for boys!

Now, we all know that isn't true. Girls are as much adventure-driven as the young lads are. We have a whole new genre of dystopian Young Adult books that speak to this very call for girls to get out there and be fierce. I've pointed out the discussion this has spawned in previous posts, highlighting the underlying issue that these young women aren't out there by choice but by necessity. So, the adventure and thrill seeking young girl seems to linger only on the outskirts of identity, once more.

But instead of focusing on that, let's focus on the girlhood and boyhood culture that emerges with the kinds of treatment we give children, the kinds of stories we feed them at an early age, and the kinds of messages that unfold. This article on Book Riot addresses that problem: what we have taken for granted as typical girl and boy behavior, and how we both foster and address that.  The picture book that troubled me, the one speaking to the "inherent princess qualities" of girls, fits directly into this mold. And this branding transcends books of course; it pervades all arenas of material culture and media.

BUT, oh man, here is that irritating conjunction, come in to thwart my mental processes. Should we instead overlook -- even negate -- the girliness of girlhood? Is that the answer? Quite a while back I discussed the issue of cuteness studies. When considering that in comparison to girliness, we see that the status of the female does always come into question during the classification of "worthwhile" literature, children's, young adult, or adult. Is something only valid if it doesn't appeal to the feminine qualities? What message do we send if we only give credence to gender-role-dismantling texts? It only takes a quick discerning eye to notice that this need to upend what we consider the weaknesses of gender usually applies to the weaknesses and flaws of femininity in children's lit. We expect girls to be readers, but expect that the most successful depictions of girls they read should show girls NOT being girls. We expect boys to repel from books, so the books cultivated for them should appeal to that same interpreted boyishness.

Does this have to be the case? The princess should be a swashbuckler, if she so chooses, and it shouldn't be seen as an anomaly to her "kind" nor a proclamation that only now is she "worthwhile" by doing so.