The Child: What Kind of Human? (MLA 2018)
Proposed Special Session for the 2018 MLA Annual Convention in New York City, January 4-7
The Child: What Kind of Human?
Theories of child development and attendant norms of maturity are wielded to evaluate the humanity of beings whose humanness is not self-evident. The child becomes an intellectual and physical unit of measurement against which a host of others are judged: enslaved people, pets, primates, plants, robots, extra-terrestrials, avatars, animated characters, the incarcerated, inhabitants of the global South, the differently abled, and the elderly to name just a few.
We seek papers that address what the child figure can tell us about inclusionary movements and exclusionary practices, and how the child figure can help us think about the form that rights and privileges can take for those marginalized by assumptions about the fully human.