CFP: The Politics and the Political in Books for Children and Young Adults (7/30/05; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Ousley, Laurie \(English/Philosophy\)
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CFP: The Politics and the Political in Books for Children and Young Adults


Roni Natov's thoughtful analysis of the literature of childhood in The Poetics of Childhood (2003), marks a good first step in "Childhood Studies". Most importantly, the book advocates a respectful and sensitive means of addressing children and childhood, recognizing the trauma that children around the world face as part of their everyday lives. In her concluding paragraph, Natov argues-perhaps even pleads-that we advocate for and protect our children: "In its broadest sense, then, the literature of childhood represents a challenge to the world. In the voices of children, in their questions about things that seem unfair, this literature demands that we look again at the crippling and divisive forces of racism and sexism. In its depictions of children suffering and struggling against the bleakest and most unstable conditions, it is an indictment of the barbaric effects of poverty on their lives. In response to our current world that criminalizes them, in response to our pollu!
 ted, wartorn, power-hungry world, the literature of childhood, in its varied imagined landscapes, suggests an inclusive society in which children can find a safe and creative way to live" (262). The literature of childhood, of course, can also reinforce and construct a world that wishes to remain unchallenged, that thrives on the conditions that create racism, sexism, poverty and suffering. As childhood is the site of political debate and children often the victims or beneficiaries of adult uses of power, the literature of childhood begs political analysis.


For this collection that has the interest of an academic press, I welcome proposals that consider the politics and political issues at play in literature for children and young adults. One might consider conservative or progressive activism, literature that consciously serves to reinforce or dismantle existing political structures, literature that serves to train the child reader into a political position or teaches a concept of ethics and justice. One might look at particular atrocities such as the Holocaust, at economic violence, at how class gender or race and its representations and assumptions function, or even at the various awards, such as the Jane Addams and Coretta Scott King Awards, that deliberately attempt to promote books with particular political content. Proposals could also consider any aspect of the production or marketing or the study of children's literature.


Please forward abstracts (250-500 words) by July 30, 2005 to


Laurie Ousley

Department of English and Philosophy

Monroe Community College

1000 E. Henrietta Road

Rochester, NY 14623

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Received on Sun Jul 03 2005 - 14:01:05 EDT