Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jungle Book Production and Pre-Show Discussion

Jungle Book is currently appearing on the stage until May 4 as part of the SDSU's Theatre, Television and Film season of plays. This Friday (May 2) at 6:30 pm, you can join the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature in "Conversations with Children's Literature," a pre-show discussion on Rudyard Kipling’s stories as well as the process of adapting them to the stage. Building on the tradition forged by a similar discussion held last year for Peter Pan & Wendy, this conversation will be led by Director Margaret Larlham, Dramaturg Megan Abell, and a panel from the NCSCL: Dr. Joseph T. Thomas, Jr., Dr. Mary Galbraith, and Graduate students Alya Hameed, Paloma Hoyos, and Alixandria Lombardo.

Discussion Info:
Friday May 2, 6:30 pm 
Dramatic Arts Building, Room 101
Open and Free to the Public
Plan to join our discussion and continue the experience by attending the play directly after!

 About Jungle Book:
Margaret Larlham has created an action-packed version of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books stories performed in the Don Powell Theatre. The story is set in a secret jungle in our own Balboa Park, a magic place between the leaves and vines bounded by park, zoo, and the freeways. Here Mowgli, a lost child, has many adventures and learns the “laws” of the jungle from a pack of wolves, Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear, and the unscrupulous tiger, Shere Kahn. Larlham’s updated version sets the adventure in a modern jungle where the impact of global warming escalates the danger of drought and disaster for the animals. 

Remaining Performance Dates:
Thursday May 1 - Friday May 2 at 7:30 pm
Saturday May 3 - Sunday May 4 at 2:00 pm

More details and ticket information can be found on the SDSU Theatre Website
You can also check out the production's blog: http://junglebooksdsu.com/

Friday, April 25, 2014

Catching Up....

You may have noticed a lack of activity in our virtual (re: blog) presence, which is due to the flurry of lived children's literature-related activity here on campus! If you follow our Twitter account, you know that Dr. Katharine Capshaw delivered an AMAZING talk Wednesday evening for us SDSU folk. Last week we hosted the first ever Devouring Children's Literature event, which you can see pictures of on our Facebook page. Finally, us grad students have recently emerged from a hostile cloud of anxiety about our culminating experiences (don't worry: we're a bit worn, but still alive). More about that later. For now, some "catching up" news...

  1. Dr. Capshaw delivered her talk "Freedom (and Fury) Now: Civil Rights Photographic Picture Books for Children." It is impossible to summarize the awesomeness that was Dr. Capshaw's presentation, but I can tell you that you should be very, very excited for her forthcoming book on the same subject. (It'll be out this fall; title is not yet confirmed.) One of the highlights of her talk included her analysis of the children's photographic picture book Today (1965), in which she asserted that the book was about process, not product. Created by and with and for the children of one of the nation's first "Head Start" programs, it embodies empowerment of African American children in Mississippi in the 1960's- mostly in the process of creation. Capshaw talked about other children's photographic books of the Black Arts Movement, including Poems by Kali (1970) and June Jordan's Dry Victories (1972), texts which imagine the child as an icon of black nationhood and express anger at civil rights failures. However, my absolute favorite aspect of Capshaw's talk was her enthusiastic reiterations of Civil Rights era schoolyard chants. 
  2. Devouring Children's Literature was a huge success! We're most thrilled with our superb speakers: local authors James Matlack Raney and Mara Price and Professors Phillip Serrato and Alida Allison. Dr. Serrato read and spoke about some food-related poems and passages, including Sandra Cisneros' Good Hot Dogs poem, poems by Francisco X. Alarcón, and passages from Mary F. Chin's short story Knuckles (published in American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults). James Matlack Raney talked about foods with "substance," arguing that while fast food is great, kids need food that nurtures, sustains, and fulfills them. Of course he was making an analogy about books and applauding the books for children that have depth and aesthetic value--the ones that merit multiple readings. He made sure to note that there is room in the world for all kinds of books. Because, hey, who doesn't love french fries?! Dr. Allison did a hilarious reading of a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. To correspond with the timing of Passover, Allison highlighted a tale regarding a foolish town’s trial and treatment of a fish (leading to gefilte fish), peppering it with her wit and enthusiasm. Mara Price discussed her journey to becoming a bilingual writer, and included a heartfelt reading of her picture book, Grandma’s Chocolate/El Chocolate de Abuelita, which she described as a meaningful way to connect with the food and history of her culture. (Also--huge thank you to our NCSCL Director, Joseph T. Thomas Jr. for being a badass emcee). 
  3. At SDSU creating (and defending) a portfolio consisting of two article-length and quality papers is one of the options for the culminating experience of the MA program-and Kelsey successfully defended her portfolio this week! After working with sexually abused children years ago, Kelsey has had it in her mind to write about Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson for some time now, but did not have the analytical know-how until entering this program. With the guidance of the top-notch professors at SDSU (thank you Professor Cummins and Professor Bailey!), she finally manged to put in writing her thoughts on how and why Speak upholds a false and misleading image of sexual violence against adolescents, mostly by privileging the physicality of the crime. Next step: submitting to journals!
  4. Alya doesn’t want to admit that she’s still working out her thesis chapters (she has it all ironed out, seriously!). Suffice it to say that the past few weeks have delivered considerable progress on her exploration of maps in contemporary children’s literature. Focusing on S.S. Taylor’s The Expeditioners and Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet (with a bit of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series), Alya is working on deconstructing how the map figures in and reconfigures the child’s world view, what the lived experience of mapping offers this world view, and if possible, a critique on the current (lack of) engagement or development of girls in these and other texts where geography matters. Spatial theory is uncharted terrain for Alya, but she has happily dived head first into the project, which started as a mere obsession with maps (cartography and more cartography for the win!) and has evolved into carved-out topographical edible creations.
    An edible representation of the key map from The Expeditioners

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reminder: Dr. Kate Capshaw to speak on April 23

Don't forget that Professor Katharine Capshaw of UConn is joining us at SDSU to speak this Wednesday!

Her lecture, titled "Freedom (and Fury) Now: Civil Rights Photographic Picture Books for Children" will be held on April 23, 2014 at 5 pm in the Leon Williams room of Love Library.

Free and open to the public.

Check out all the details here!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reminder: Register your Edible Book!

The exciting new event, Devouring Children's Literature, is nearly upon us! We are excited to display a number of Edible Books at the event next Thursday at Scripps Cottage from 1-3pm (prizes will be awarded for the best ones!). If you are creating an Edible Book please remember to register here by April 15th. 

Look forward to hearing talks from Professors Serrato and Allison and local children's book authors, Mara Price and James Matlack Raney!

See you there!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ChildLit Cartography: The Hunting of the Snark

My professor shared the following "map" with me out of a bit of whimsy and amusement. Taken from The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll, the map mirrors the crew's wit, intelligence, and imagination: it's completely blank. Thus "they found it to be / A map they could all understand."

Gut reaction tells us this is ridiculous! To respond to complete emptiness, with no "Mercator's North Poles and Equators,/ Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines," cannot logically lead to success (or lead to anything), because it lacks all the necessary markings, what they view them simply as "conventional signs." If you're familiar with this epic tale of adventure and mystery, then you know conventionality is no ingredient to the tale, so for the purposes of absurdity, it makes sense.

But, its blankness can also depict what every cartographer wants to achieve with a map: scientific fact as autonomous from social dimensions, with assumptions that reality and representation are linked. The map, blank as it is, depicts the entire sea as one sees it: vast, nearly limitless, a blank slate (what brews beneath or above is not articulated). So, ironically, yes, this map depicts the ocean at its cartographic best.

But that blankness of course leaves room for all of our assumptions, because, as JB Harley puts it, "there is a second text within the map" which carries social or political weight. This particular map allows every viewer to read their own hierarchy of markers and symbols. In fact, if you look carefully at the image, the map is blank but its margins carry symbols; those symbols, even on the strict scientific map, contain "a dimension of 'symbolic realism' which is no less a statement of political authority and control than a coat of arms." Basically, you can't escape social theory, no matter what blank slate you are given.