(Proposed session for MLA 2017, sponsored by Children's Literature Association)
This panel will consider the status of the intellectual life of the child in modern and contemporary literature for young people. Just as American culture is often characterized as anti-intellectual, as if the democratization of education entailed a turn away from the life of the mind, literature for the young is sometimes summed up as empty-headed. Even the school story—a genre named for the central role it gives to school experience—is notorious for its lack of interest in academic pursuits. Hence the need to consider those rarer narratives that give expression to the intellectual lives of the young.