CFP: [Children] Canons of Childrenâs Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Hannah Emery
contact email: 

Call for Proposals: Canons of Children’s Literature
15 May 2008, University of California, Berkeley

Keynote Speaker: Paula Fass, author of Children of a New World: Society,
Culture, and Globalization

The University of California, Berkeley Children’s Literature Working Group
invites papers on the theme of canons of children’s literature for its
conference to be held on the UC Berkeley campus on Saturday, 15 March 2008.

As studied in Anglo-American universities, literary canons have long been
the province of dominant groups within globally dominant cultures. The last
several decades have seen the expansion and destabilization of the
traditional western canons, and the construction of new canons
(African-American, postcolonial, women's, queer, and genre literatures, for
instance). In spite of these radical changes to the idea of "the canon,"
children's literature has been largely ignored. Recently, however, literary
critics have begun to attend seriously to children’s literature as an
integral component of the literary canon. Scholars such as Uli
Knoepflmacher, Peter Hunt, John Rowe Townsend, Perry Nodelman, Jack Zipes,
and Gillian Avery, to name only a few, have dedicated their careers to
exploring children’s literature and explicating the centrality of this
literature to humanistic criticism as a discipline, making a broader
acceptance of children’s literature possible for students and fellow
scholars. The recent publication of two academic anthologies of children’s
literature represents the beginning of the institutionalization of
children’s literature within the academy and the recognition that
children’s literature needs to be considered and discussed by today’s
scholars and students. Simultaneously, however, these anthologies and
their reception have demonstrated the indeterminacy surrounding children’s
literature as a genre and a canon.

This conference, as part of a growing movement in literary criticism, seeks
to address these fundamental questions: What is “children’s literature”?
What is the place of children's literature in the mainstream literary
canon? What can literary scholars say about existing children's literature
canons, which have not generally come out of literary-critical traditions?
How do children's literature canons speak to more mainstream literary
canons, and how do the mainstream canons speak back?

Twenty-minute papers could consider topics such as:

• the construction of children's literature canons by publishers, academia,
popular culture, or the texts themselves
• the mobilization of a children’s literature canon to induct children into
a culture
• the construction of canons by children’s literature
• the subversion of canonical conventions in children’s literature
• the use of children’s literature canons to colonize and/or create
cultural distinctions
• the role of gender in canon formation and organization

Papers may engage with individual authors and texts in the process of
considering the above topics or others related to the conference theme.

Please email your 300-500 word abstract, cover letter, and CV to the
University of California, Berkeley Children’s Literature Working group at

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Received on Tue Oct 16 2007 - 12:25:14 EDT