Children's Literature and New York City (August 26, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
University of Dublin, Trinity College and the Church of Ireland College of Education

The proposed volume will examine the varying ways in which children's literature has engaged with New York as a city space, both in terms of (urban) realism and as 'idea' (a place of opportunity, etc). The volume will explore not just dominant themes, motifs, tropes, etc but also the different narrative methods employed to inform readers about the history, function, physical structure, conceptualization, etc of New York City. The volume will also acknowledge the shared or symbiotic relationship between literature and the city: just as the literature can give imaginative 'reality' to the city, the city has the potential to shape the literary text.

Many contemporary children's texts are set in city environments and engage with the complexities of urban life. From the nineteenth century to the present day, New York has featured prominently in children's literature of the city. Newbery Medal Winners such as Ruth Sawyer's Roller Skates (1936), Emily Cheney Neville's It's Like This, Cat (1963) and E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up File of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) are set in New York, while texts such as Mary Ann Sadleir's Bessy Conway; or, the Story of an Irish Girl (1863), J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (1951), Judy Blume's Are You there God? It's me Margaret (1970) and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Shaun Tan's The Arrival (2006), and Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story (2006) can all be read within the context of representations of New York City.

The volume will cover a range of forms and genres – picture books, adventure novels, school stories, YA Fiction, fantasy, romantic realism, comic realism, film, etc – and movements – realism, naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism. Obvious themes that might be considered in essays include, for example: Class; Race and Ethnicity; Individual and National Identity; Opportunity and Alienation; Immigration and the Other; Globalisation and Cultural Transference/Transformation; Space and Place; Urbanism and the Natural; Metropolis and Hinterland; Megalopolis versus Frontier/Wilderness; and, Industrial versus the Post-industrial.

This volume will have an international audience. It will be of interest to postgraduate and undergraduate students of literature and children's literature, literary scholars, academics, teachers, librarians, people working in the media (both print and television), and to all those interested in publishing and writing for children. However, the volume will also be of interest to scholars from other disciplines engaged in research within the humanities and social sciences.

A 300- to 500-word abstract (we ask potential contributors to include a critical/theoretical framework, as well as specific primary texts), a brief biography, and a short CV should be submitted as an MS Word attachment by 26 August 2011 by e-mail to (complete essays of circa 5,000 words should be submitted by 10 December 2011).

A major international publisher has expressed interest in the volume.

Dr Pádraic Whyte is Lecturer in Children's Literature and co-director of the MPhil in Children's Literature at the School of English, University of Dublin, Trinity College. He has published several articles and essays in the areas of children's literature and film. He is author of Irish Childhoods: Children's Fiction and Irish History (2011).

Dr Keith O'Sullivan is Lecturer in English at the Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin (an Associated College of the University of Dublin, Trinity College). He is a founder member of the Irish Society for the Study of Children's Literature. His has published on Philip Pullman and Emily Brontë. He co-edited Irish Children's Literature: New Perspectives on Contemporary Writing (Routledge 2011).

Please direct enquiries and submissions to the editors, Dr Pádraic Whyte and Dr Keith O'Sullivan. Email: