Sisterhood and Social Justice in Children's and Young Adult Literature--MLA 2015 (Jan 8-11, 2015)--abstracts due March 15, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Children's Literature Association/MLA Women's Studies Div.

Sisterhood remains a powerful way of imagining relationships among women, ranging in its symbolism from supportive friendship to the evil stepsister. Beyond what may appear to be conventional familial rhetoric, "sisterhood" offers the possibility for either rivalry or connection across difference. 300- to 500-word proposals on biological or symbolic sisterhood in children's/YA literature—particularly in relation to social justice—by the end of March 15 to Mary Jeanette Moran ( and Madelyn Detloff ( ). This panel is co-sponsored by the Children's Literature Association and the Women's Studies Division, but is not guaranteed.

Potential topics in relation to sisterhood in children's and young adult literature might include:

Collective political agency amongst girls and women

Sibling bonds as an additional vector of psychological growth and analysis

Negotiation of girls' and women's love, anger, competitiveness and protectiveness embedded in family dynamics and the culture writ large

The bonds of those historically excluded from equal opportunity and/or leadership

The affective and psychological power of friendship (the family we choose)

The struggle to build identity and autonomy out of the shadows of one's siblings

Strategic solidarity of "sisterhood" as rhetoric

Nostalgia—remembering and repressing in the family of origin

The expression/exploration of the lesbian continuum

Black girls' and women's identities and possible allegiances along racial, class and gender lines

Sororocide—literal and figurative

The radical potential of feminism

The representation of working-class girls and women

"Lost sisters"—symbolic representations of prostitution and reform

Sisters as models of gendered behavior and consequences

Frenemies and affective bonds among peers/rivals

Additional burdens on sisters to act as substitute mothers

The critical approaches of Deborah Tannen, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Deborah Siegel, and others invested in the study of sisterhood

Historical representations (Alcott's Little Women or Rossetti's Goblin Market) as well as contemporary explorations of sisterhood for children and young adults (Paterson's Jacob Have I Loved or Brashares's Traveling Pants series or Birdsall's Penderwick sisters or Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer or P.S. Be Eleven)