MLA 2021 “#OwnVoices in Children’s and Adolescent Literature”

deadline for submissions: 
March 10, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
MLA GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature Forum

MLA 2021 “#OwnVoices in Children’s and Adolescent Literature”

Guaranteed Session Sponsored by the MLA GS Children’s and Young Adult Literature Forum

Toronto, Ontario

January 7-10, 2021

Panel Chair:  Brigitte Fielder


Deadline for submissions: 10 March 2020


First used on Twitter in 2015 by Corinne Duyvis, the term #OwnVoices has gained momentum in contemporary discussions of children’s literature and social justice, and its now frequent integration into contemporary scholarship and media highlights the importance of continued discussions about the complexity and nuance surrounding textual representation, inclusivity, and power.  Duyvis defines #OwnVoices as “kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group,” and calls for greater consideration of the value of texts wherein “the protagonist and the author share a marginalized identity” (@corinneduyvis).  For as Debbie Reese describes in exploring critical Indigenous literacies, “The idea is that the quality of a story is improved when the person creating that story is an insider who knows what to share and how to share it with outsiders.”  This guaranteed panel session will give much-needed critical attention to #OwnVoices texts and scholars, continuing this important discussion at MLA 2021 in Toronto, Ontario.


Gabrielle Atwood Halko and Sarah Park Dahlen also stress the importance of considering #OwnVoices texts in their introduction to the inaugural issue of Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, writing that scholarship about #OwnVoices texts can “remind us, first of all, that #OwnVoices are not monolithic; they also illustrate the fluidity of mirrors, windows, and doors and the futility of seeking fixed or isolated representations.”  It is this complex, fluid, and multi-faced consideration of textual representation that the “#OwnVoices in Children’s and Adolescent Literature” panel proposed for MLA 2021 seeks to explore, and we welcome submissions that highlight a wide range of topics and texts engaging creative expression and contemporary scholarly discourse. Please send a 350-word abstracts and a 2-page CV to by March 10th, 2020 for consideration for this guaranteed panel session.


While we welcome a wide range of submissions, given the topic of this panel and the fact that Ontario is home to over 134 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, we are especially interested in presentations proposed by Indigenous and First Nations scholars.