Age | Narratives

deadline for submissions: 
August 4, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Age | Narratives: At the Intersection of Age Studies & Children’s and YA Literature Research

The Workshop Age | Narratives will take place

October 11 and 12, 2019 in Frankfurt

Department for American Studies & Department for Children’s and Young Adult Literature Research

Goethe-University Frankfurt

Organisation: Linda Hess and Anika Ullmann



Call for Papers: 

Children’s literature and young adult literature are literary genres that emanate from age as a

category of difference. Discourses of age are central with regard to the production and reception as

well as the marketing and distribution of children’s and young adult literary media. Furthermore,

conflicts of age, attributions of age, and the focus on age-specific problems form typical motifs and

themes of these genres. Consequently, children’s and young adult literary media possess a strong

discursive power. They not only mirror what it means to be a child or a young adult at a given moment

in history in a given society, they also shape the kind of performances that render children and young

adults intelligible as children and as young adults. As Vanessa Joosen states in Adulthood in Children’s

Literature (2018), “all these messages [about age] combined can become quite powerful to determine

how (young) people act their own age, assess other people’s performance of age, and think of their

past, present and future selves” (12).

Despite the crucial role age plays for a complex understanding of children’s and young adult

media, scholars in the field of children’s and young adult literature have been slow to integrate age

studies into their research. Conversely, to date, age studies have hardly concerned themselves with

children’s and young adult literature and media. Even though researchers state time and again that

“age identities” are learned and internalized at an early age (Gullette 2011, Lipscomb and Marshall

2010), moreover pointing out that the process of aging begins at birth, age studies as a field of

research is strongly focused on “old” and “middle” age. Anita Wohlmann observes, “young people are

typically of little concern to age scholars who start their investigations with later stages, such as

middle age [. . .]. Upon a closer look, however, there are many examples that suggest a relation

between young people and age awareness (2014, 13-14). Since age narratives do indeed surround us

from childhood on and strongly influence our understanding of our own identity as well as our roles

within communities, the ways in which we conceive and represent age are of vital social significance.

The two-day workshop on Age & Children’s and YA Literature plans to tackle such heretofore

neglected intersections of children’s and YA literature research and age studies. Presentations will be

25-30 minutes followed by discussion.


Possible topics for contribution:

- Doing Age (in contrast to / in connection to Doing Gender)

- Age as a category of difference

- Narratology: narrating age

- The roles of childhood and youth in Age Studies

- Connections of power and narratives of age

- Representations of grandparents and grandchildren

- Representations and negotiations of adulthood

- The question of generations: conflicts and cooperation

- Concepts of time and future in relation to the category of age.


This Workshop is funded with the generous support of the Frankfurt Humanities Research Center.