MLA 2015, Geography and Memory in Children's and YA Literature, deadline March 15, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Kate Slater and Gwen Athene Tarbox
contact email: 

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 YA 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 and Gwen Athene Tarbox at Panelists will need to be members of the MLA by April 7, 2014.

This guaranteed panel is sponsored by the Children's Literature Association. The 2015 MLA will be held in Vancouver, BC from January 8-11, 2014.