Children's Literature Society of the American Literature Associaton (12/30/09) (5/27/10-5/30/10)

full name / name of organization: 
Dorothy G. Clark/Children's Literature Society of ALA
contact email:

MAY 27 – 30, 2010

The Children’s Literature Society of the ALA seeks abstracts for two panels on children’s literature for the American Literature Association Conference to be held May 27-30, 2010, at The Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, CA.
Panel 1:
Queering Childhood: GLBTQ Character and Storyline in Young Adult and Children’s Literature
Innovation is at the heart of children’s literature; the genre has a rich tradition of opening new areas both in form and content. Since the 1969 publication of John Donovan’s novel about a teen struggling with his homosexuality, I’ll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip, a body of Children’s and Young Adult literature has grown around characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and queer as well as those questioning their sexuality. Such groundbreaking books as Donovan’s and those about alternative families such as Daddy’s Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies to the more recent And Tango Makes Three as well as Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat stories have pioneered this important new area. Story and character portrayal have moved from a singular focus on the struggle to deal with homophobia to a multidimensional one that addresses GLBTQ experiences as part of American life and culture.
This panel examines the portrayal of these characters and contexts in which they are drawn. How has Children’s and Young Adult literature addressed such issues as what it feels like or means to grow up LGBTQ? What has been the reception to this new content area? Has it spawned a growing awareness and tolerance or censorship and backlash? What does this growing area of literature say about the nature of Children’s and Young Adult literature in the 21st century?
Please send panel proposals or paper abstracts (250-500 words) by December 30, 2009 to Linda Salem

Please include academic rank and affiliation and AV requests

Hard copies can also be sent to:
Linda Salem
Library and Information Access
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-8050

Panel 2
Children on the Margin: Misfits/Outcasts in Children's & YA Literature
The uniquely American privileging of the individual—and the resulting tensions between self and community, isolation and connection—has been a major theme in American literature; Children's and Young Adult literature are no exception.
This struggle to understand the self in relation to the group has informed such iconic works as J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey to Cynthia Voigt’s Bad Girl series and such recent works as Justine Larbalestier’s Liar and Marcella Pixley’s Freak. This panel explores these themes of individualism and isolation through characters who see themselves or are seen by others as misfits and/or outcasts. They may experience isolation and social dislocation by such diverse factors as gender, race, class, sexual identity, religion, physical appearance, nationality as well as family structures and unique temperaments (e.g., artistic, psychological, neurological).
These characters may struggle to fit in, embark on journeys to acceptance and the other, as they engage their own experiences of personal transformation. Is there a way in which these characters help to define a uniquely American Young Adult and Children's literature along these lines? Or, are these themes so universal that these stories and characters offer a connection to and identification with the global community? Has there been a change in the portrayal of these characters and themes that suggest larger social and cultural changes or perspectives?

Please send panel proposals or paper abstracts (250-500 words) by December 30, 2009 to Dorothy G. Clark

Please include academic rank and affiliation and AV requests

Hard copies can also be sent to
Dorothy G. Clark
Dept. of English
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330-8248

Conference details may be found at the American Literature Association web

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