Didactics and the Modern Robinsonade for Young Adults

deadline for submissions: 
December 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Collection of Essays edited by Ian Kinane (University of Roehampton)

Didactics and the Modern Robinsonadefor Young Adults – Edited Collection


The literary and historical influence of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe on the Western literary canon cannot be overstated. Its publication heralded the arrival of the novel form and engendered greater public interest in reading literature in the eighteenth century. It was Rousseau who said of Robinson Crusoe that it is “the one book that teaches all that books can teach”. Indeed, in his treatise Emilius and Sophia: or, A New System of Education, Rousseau advocated for the use of Defoe’s novel as an instructional tool for the education of young minds, wanting Emilius to read only Defoe during his formative years.

Encoded within Robinson Crusoe – and in other popular Robinsonade narratives that followed it – were specific ideological lessons concerning, among other things, masculinity, civility, and the roles young British men/adolescents were expected to fulfil as part of Britain’s imperial mandate. RM Ballantyne’s The Coral Island, for example, as a boys’ adventure novel, inculcates within the young adult reader a sense of national duty and homosocial pride: it also provides the reader with an idea of those specific, practical skills that would be needed in order to survive on a desert island. The Robinsonade genre, then, is largely an instructional one, and one that provides the reader with specific lessons (both implicit and explicit) about how to be – an adolescent, an adult, a dutiful patriot, et cetera.

Didactics and the Modern Robinsonade seeks to explore the inherent didacticism of the Robinsonade genre and to examine specifically the lessons that more modern and contemporary iterations of the Robinson Crusoe story have inculcated within young adult readers. Each chapter in the collection will focus on a different Robinsonade narrative, and, more specifically, on the instructional function of the island/islanded setting and the edification of the young adult protagonist(s) that occurs through his/her/their interactions with the topography/other inhabitants. While a great deal of work has already been carried out on Robinsonade narratives of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this collection will examine those works of Robinsonade fiction that were written after 1900, and which have received much less critical attention as a whole.

Contributors are invited to submit proposals for chapters of 6,000 words in length on the didactic elements of any Robinsonade narrative produced after 1900 across a variety of media (literature, film, television etc.). The term “Robinsonade” may be interpreted broadly, and chapter topics may include (but are certainly not limited to):


Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover Landfall

Joanna Russ's We Who Are About Two

Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber 

CJ Cherryh's Pride of Chanur

Marlen Haushofer's The Wall

Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain

Tove Jannson's Moomin Papa at Sea

Jean Auel's Valley of Horses

Enid Blyton's The Secret Island

Muriel Spark's Robinson

Ann Fraser Tytler's Leila, or The Island 

Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins

Calder Willingham’s Providence Island

Charles Logan’s Shipwreck

Ann McAffrey's Dragonsong

Elizabeth Moin's Remnant Population

Barbara Euphran Todd's Miss Ranskill Comes Home 

MP Shiel’s The Purple Cloud

JM Barrie’s The Admiral Crichton

H DeVere Stacpoole’s The Blue Lagoon

Carol Ryrie Brink’s Baby Island

Monica Hughes's The Keeper of the ISIS Light

Malorie Blackman's Chasing the Stars 

Anne McCaffrey's Decision at Doona

Libba Bray's Beauty Queens

Captain WE Johns’ Biggles in the South Seas

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Pincher Martin

Raykond Abrashkin and Jay Williams’ Danny Dunn on a Desert Island

William Steig’s Abel’s Island

Thomas Berger’s Robert Crews

Yann Martel’s Life of Pi

Terry Pratchett’s Nation


The editor is open to proposals on Robinsonade works in other languages and from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Also, given that the Robinsonade genre has tended historically to be comprised largely of male authors/writers, I am very eager to hear from scholars working on modern Robinsonades by female writers.

Please send your proposals (max. 500 words) along with a short biography and a writing sample (of no more than 1,000 words) to Ian.Kinane@roehampton.ac.uk by 30th November 2016.