Archive for Call for Papers

MLA 2018 Call for Papers! Calling Dumbledore’s Army: Activist Children’s Literature

MLA NYC 2018 logoBooks can encourage children to question rather than accept the world as it is. Literature for young people can invite them to imagine a world where black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, poverty does not limit one’s life choices, LGBTQ youth know they are loved, indigenous peoples’ rights are respected, the disabled have equal rights and opportunities, refugees find refuge, and climate change does not imperil life on this planet.

Jenny Sowry's Woke BabyThis guaranteed session (sponsored by the Children’s Literature Forum) examines children’s literature as a vehicle for social change. Subjects panelists might consider include (but are not limited to): Children as activists, books aligned with social movements, satire or humor as catalyst for change, the repurposing of children’s culture as means of expressing or inspiring adults’ activism. Papers may cover any country or historical period.

The panel will convene at the Modern Language Association Convention in New York, which will be held from January 4 to 7, 2018.

Send 1-page abstract and 2-page CV by March 15, 2017 to Philip Nel <philnel@ksu.edu>.

scholarship on activist children's literature

Image credit: Photo is of Jenny Sowry’s “Woke Baby,” at the Women’s March, Jan. 2017. The image became a meme, and you can read more about it in this BuzzFeed article.

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Migration, Refugees, and Diaspora in Children’s Literature: Call for Papers (1 Nov. 2017)

Drowned City, The Island, Number the Stars, War — What If?, How I Learned Geography

A Special Issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly

Edited by Philip Nel

Deadline: 1 November 2017

In September 2015, photos of three-year-old Alan Kurdi — his corpse washed ashore on a Turkish beach — came to symbolize the urgency of the Syrian refugee crisis. World leaders promised to do more, people debated whether printing the pictures was appropriate, and charities experienced a surge in donations. In children’s literature, the figure of the child as refugee, migrant, or displaced citizen has long been a powerful trope, disrupting the assumed connection between personal identity and national identity, exposing virulent xenophobia, but also awakening compassion and kindness.  As Europe faces its largest refugee crisis since World War II (and demagogues stoke nativist/racist anger in Europe and North America), this special issue will examine children’s literature’s response — both contemporary and historical — to refugees, migrants, and members of diasporic communities.

Subjects papers might consider include (but are not limited to) how texts for children represent: the ways in which the term “migrant” can dehumanize people, whether persecuted minorities qualify for refugee status in their own countries, the many reasons for displacement (such as race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, war, economics), questions concerning human rights, and how the vulnerable figure of the child brings these questions into sharper focus.

Papers should conform to the usual style of ChLAQ and be between 6000 and 9000 words in length.  Please send queries and completed essays to Philip Nel (philnel@ksu.edu, with “ChLAQ Essay” in the subject line) by 1 November 2017.  The essays chosen will appear in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 43.4 (Winter 2018).

The Arrival, Day of Tears, I Am David, Bamboo People, Inside Out & Back Again

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MLA 2017 Call for Papers! Border Conflicts: Migration, Refugees, and Diaspora in Children’s Literature

Drowned City, The Island, Number the Stars, War — What If?, How I Learned Geography

In September 2015, photos of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi — his corpse washed ashore on a Turkish beach — came to symbolize the urgency of the Syrian refugee crisis. World leaders promised to do more, people debated whether printing the pictures was appropriate, and charities experienced a surge in donations. In children’s literature, the figure of the child as refugee, migrant, or displaced citizen has long been a powerful trope, disrupting the assumed connection between personal identity and national identity, exposing virulent racism and xenophobia, but also awakening compassion and kindness.  As Europe faces its largest refugee crisis since World War II, this guaranteed session (sponsored by the Children’s Literature Forum) will examine children’s literature’s response — both contemporary and historical — to refugees, migrants, and members of diasporic communities.

Subjects panelists might consider include (but are not limited to): the ways in which the term “migrant” can dehumanize people, whether persecuted minorities qualify for refugee status in their own countries, the many reasons for displacement (race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexuality), questions concerning human rights, and how the vulnerable figure of the child brings these questions into sharper focus.

The panel will convene at the Modern Language Association Convention in Philadelphia, which will be held from January 5 to 8, 2017.

Send 1-page abstracts by March 15, 2016 to Nina Christensen <NC@dac.au.dk> and Philip Nel <philnel@ksu.edu>.

The Arrival, Day of Tears, I Am David, Bamboo People, Inside Out & Back Again

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Calls for Papers (Children’s Literature): MLA 2015, Vancouver, BC

MLA 2015: Vancouver, BCScholars of Children’s Literature, Young Adult Literature, Children’s Culture!  Attention! Here are some calls for papers, for the 2015 Modern Language Association, held from January 8 to 11, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. All are sponsored or co-sponsored by the MLA’s Children’s Literature Division. Send in a proposal to one of the organizers!  Come to Vancouver! (Whether or not you present, do come to Vancouver, if you can. It’s a beautiful city — one of my favorite cities, in fact.)

Geography and Memory in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  DUE 15 March 2014

Investigating the conference theme of “Negotiating Sites of Memory,” this panel considers the ideological and spatial implications of physical places depicted in children’s and young adult literature. The geographies of these texts demonstrate that constructions of places and people are related processes. In works for young people, the material and the social are mutually constitutive, shaping and reflecting environments that depend on the discursive and/or physical participation of child characters and child readers alike. Importantly, these geographies as produced through literature are imagined representations rather than tangible locations, a gap that explicitly invites the contributions of memory, nostalgia, and fantasy.

Topics prospective panelists might wish to address include, but are not limited to:

  • Place’s role in the development of a children’s literature canon
  • The role of nostalgia and/or memory in shaping depictions of place in writing for children
  • The relationship or interplay between material places and literary representations (for example, Prince Edward Island and Avonlea)
  • The function of maps and illustrations in children’s texts
  • The sustained hold of specific places in children’s and YA literature on cultural imaginations and memory, including the Hundred Acre Wood, Toad Hall, the Four-Story Mistake, Mr. Brown’s antique shop, Hogwarts, Panem, the Island of the Blue Dolphins, and many others
  • Regionalism in children’s and YA literature
  • Virtual places and spaces in digital literature and/or media for young people
  • The geographies of books themselves as physical artifacts of material culture

Please send 500-word abstracts by March 15, 2014 to Kate Slater at slaterks@plu.edu and Gwen Athene Tarbox at gwen.tarbox@wmich.edu. Panelists will need to be members of the MLA by April 7, 2014.

This guaranteed panel is sponsored by the MLA’s Children’s Literature Division. The 2015 MLA will be held in Vancouver, BC from January 8-11, 2015.


Sites of Memory in Children’s Literature. DUE 15 Mar. 2014

Remembering, remembrance, memory, and forgetting shapes children’s literature: authors’ personal memories of childhood that inform their texts or are preserved in cross-written texts or memoirs; larger cultural memories adults wish to pass down to future generations; and events, incidents, and topics elided or “forgotten” in the canon. Indeed, the genre of children’s literature relies on the remembrance, reinterpretation, or revision of past works. This panel invites papers considering all aspects of memory in children’s and young adult literature (historical, literary, nostalgic, patriotic, personal, repressed, traumatic, etc.) as well as papers that explore how literary memory shapes the canon of children’s and YA literature through intertextuality, another site of memory.

Topics prospective panelists might wish to address include, but are not limited to:

  • Adult memories of childhood mined from archives, letters, diaries, memoirs, libraries, school classrooms, or childhood reading practices
  • Cultural and historical events remembered, forgotten, elided, or revised in works of children’s and young adult literature
  • The role of remembrance and nostalgia in canon formation: forgotten texts that are making a comeback (e.g., Henty’s novels in the homeschooling community) or texts that should be remembered
  • How intertextuality functions to challenge, negotiate, or reinterpret ideas of youth, children’s literature, and/or YA literature
  • Genre: historical, theoretical, or institutional practices of remembering and forgetting what constitutes children’s literature
  • Traumatic memories: how they’re represented in individual works as well as how they’re presented to younger readers
  • Iconic texts about remembrance: anything to do with war, but also “holiday” books and texts about important historical events

Please send 500-word proposals by March 15 to Karin Westman at westmank@ksu.edu.

This guaranteed panel is sponsored by the MLA’s Children’s Literature Division. The 2015 MLA will be held in Vancouver, BC from January 8-11, 2015.


World War I in Children’s LiteratureDUE: 27 Feb. 2014

Children at home dream of war; children in war zones dream of home. War poets such as Robert Service, Wilfred Owen, and Robert Graves were haunted by childhood narratives of home and play, to the point where they were interpreting their own immediate experience through lenses tinted by memory and childish linguistic patterns; novelists such as L.M. Montgomery, Kate Seredy, and Ethel Turner became increasingly obsessed with the identity of place and how war expands (and sometimes explodes) a community’s sense of self. Through picture books and graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction, this session invites us to pause, in this centenary of the Great War, and consider how both immediate and more long-term memories of the war were shaped by children’s literature of the period and how they are continually reshaped by contemporary authors and illustrators using very diverse techniques, including such artists as Michael Morpungo, Diana Preston, Penelope Farmer, Jacques Tardi, Jim Murphy, Kevin Major, David Hill, and Sonya Hartnett. For consideration in this unguaranteed MLA session, please send a 350-word abstract to Jacquilyn Weeks (weeksj@iupui.edu) and Lissa Paul (lpaul@brocku.ca) by February 27th, 2014.

The MLA session will be comprised of three speakers, each of whom will have 15-20min to present their research on this topic. These presentations will be followed by a 15-30min open Q&A. We’ll be looking for a set of three papers that present the strongest and most original arguments while adhering to our general guidelines.

The focus in this context is on research rather than the pragmatic details of publishing or a detailed description of published literature; however, we’d be very interested in a paper that thinks about patterns of contemporary Canadian children’s literature and it’s engagement with the First World War. You would be welcome to offer an analysis of your own work. The 350-word abstract should outline your central argument and give us a sense of what you would discuss in your 15-20min paper.

This non-guaranteed panel is sponsored by the MLA’s Children’s Literature Division. The 2015 MLA will be held in Vancouver, BC from January 8-11, 2015.


Visual Cultures and Young People’s Texts in Canada. DUE 15 Mar. 2014

Exploring visual culture produced by, for, and about young people in Canada, including comics, animation, picture books, photography, and digital forms. 350 word abstracts by 15 March 2014; Jennifer Blair (Jennifer.blair@uottawa.ca) and Catherine Tosenberger (ctosen@gmail.com).

This non-guaranteed panel is co-sponsored by the MLA’s Children’s Literature Division and the MLA’s Canadian Literature in English Discussion Group. The 2015 MLA will be held in Vancouver, BC from January 8-11, 2015.

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Make Way for Boston: Children’s Literature and New England. CALL FOR PAPERS. Due: 15 Mar. 2012

New England Primer.  Edition of 1777.The beginnings of children’s literature in America predate the nation, but not the region. In 1686, the publication of the New England Primer heralded a centuries-long tradition of books for children and young people written in, on, and around New England. These works show that constructions of places and people are not wholly separate processes; in their convergence, they produce complex and multi-faceted environments. Just as it is impossible to consider “the child” as a singular entity, it is equally impossible to conceive of a single “New England.” Both formations are heterogeneous, intricate, and highly dependent upon subjective perspective. Proposed for the Jan. 2013 MLA in Boston, this panel will consider not only the different New Englands readers encounter through various texts for children, but — concurrent with the MLA 2013 Presidential Theme of “Avenues of Access” — also how the region itself has both prevented and promoted access to children’s literature.

Questions and subjects prospective panelists might wish to pursue include but are not limited to:

  • the role of publishers. Houghton Mifflin, Candlewick, David R. Godine, Beacon all have offices in Boston, the city that was also home to earlier publishers of works for children (E.P. Dutton, Lothrop and Lee, Munroe and Francis, Ticknor and Fields, the American Tract Society, Isaiah Thomas)
  • the role of librarians from the region, such as Caroline M. Hewins, Minerva Sanders, Alice M. Jordan
  • Horn Book logomagazines for children, such as Our Young Folks (pub. by Atlantic Monthly), Youth’s Cabinet, The Student and Schoolmate, Parley’s Magazine, Oliver Optic’s Magazine, Robert’s Merry Museum (founded by Samuel Goodrich and edited by Louisa May Alcott)
  • Horn Book.  Based in Boston, the influential publication has, since 1924, provided reviews of and essays on children’s books.
  • the mid-19th century popularity of world histories and geographies for children, written and published in New England by Samuel Goodrich, Jacob Abbott, and othersLouisa May Alcott, Little Women
  • Authors who live or lived in New England, such as Louisa May Alcott, M.T. Anderson, Sandra Boynton, Virginia Lee Burton, Eric Carle, Lydia Maria Child, Robert Cormier, Eleanor Estes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Crockett Johnson, Ruth Krauss, Robert Lawson, Lois Lowry, Robert McCloskey, Gregory Macguire, Eleanor H. Porter, H.A. & Margret Rey, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Marc Simont, Lane Smith, Chris Van Allsburg,, E. B. White, and Mo Willems. We welcome considerations of New England authors not traditionally acknowledged as writers for children, but who wrote for children nonetheless (such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and Alice Cary) as well as those whose works are assigned to young readers even if not necessarily intended for them (J.D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Junot Diaz)
  • Robert McCloskey, Make Way for DucklingsBooks set in New England, such as: The New England Primer (1686), Jacob Abbott’s Rollo books (1835-1858), Samuel Griswold Goodrich’s Peter Parley series (1827-1859), Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868-69), Alice Cary’s Snow-Berries: A Book for Young Folks (1867), Kate Douglas Wiggin’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903), Eleanor H. Porter’s Pollyanna (1913), Rachel Field’s Hitty, Her First Hundred Years (1929), E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952) and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970), Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings (1941) and many books set in Maine (Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder), Chris Van Allsburg’s The Stranger (1986), Dr. Seuss’s And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), Oliver Butterworth’s The Enormous Egg (1956), Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill (1944), Esther Forbes’s Johnny Tremain (1943), Joan W. Blos’s A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 (1979), Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958), Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Bentley (1998), Virginia Hamilton’s Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave (1988), Eleanor Estes’ The Moffats books (1941-1943, 1983),Virginia Hamilton, Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnick series (1979-1995), Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks series (2005-), Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War (1974) and I Am the Cheese (1977), M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation (2006-2008).

By 15 March 2012, please send 500-word abstracts to Philip Nel (philnel@ksu.edu) and Kate Slater (kslater@ucsd.edu).  Panelists will need to be members of the MLA by 7 April 2012.

This panel is sponsored by the MLA Children’s Literature Division but is not guaranteed.  The 2013 MLA will be held in Boston, 3-6 January 2013.

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Paper Call: MLA, January 3-6, 2013, Boston

Children's Literature Association: logoEach year the Children’s Literature Assocation is guaranteed one session at the MLA and can submit proposals for up to two more.* If you would like to propose a session topic, by June 17th please send the ChLA/MLA Liaison (Philip Nel: philnel@ksu.edu): (1) a short description of your proposal idea, and, if relevant, (2) the name of an other MLA-affiliated entity (allied organization, division, or discussion group) you plan to seek as a co-sponsor. The ChLA Board will examine the proposals and select the top three (one guaranteed, plus two additional**) for submission to the 2013 MLA Convention.

*If ChLA chooses to submit two additional sessions, one of those sessions must be a collaborative session with another entity (division, discussion group, allied organization, etc.).

**The proposals for the two additional sessions are not guaranteed and will be reviewed by the MLA Program Committee. Please see the Procedures for Organizing Meetings on the MLA Web site (http://mla.org/conv_procedures) for further details.

Update, 9 June 2011: Here’s the CFP on the ChLA website.

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