Friday, September 22, 2017

Upcoming Panel: Children's Literature Criticism at SDSU "A Snapshot of Current Research"

San Diego State University is hosting a children's literature panel this fall! You'll get a glimpse into the latest researching being conducted by professors in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. With a wide range of research interests centered on the child and young adult, this panel will enlighten and mystify any attendee. Be sure to check it out!   

Sunday, September 17, 2017

CFP: Northeast Modern Language Association; Deadline: September 30, 2017

Northeast Modern Language Association 49th Convention
“Global Spaces, Local Landscapes and Imagined Worlds”

When: April 12th-15th, 2018
Where: Pittsburgh, PA
Deadline for Abstracts: Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Keynote Speaker: Rob Nixon, the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Family Professor in the Humanities and the Environment at Princeton University. He is the author of four books, most recently Dreambirds: the Natural History of a Fantasy and Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, which won numerous awards, including the 2012 Sprout prize from the International Studies Association for the best book in environmental studies.

Topics with areas concerning ChildLit/YA Literature and Popular Culture:
Editor's Note: We have selected only a few areas of interest, to see the entire list of topics, please visit their website.

Superwoman: Comic Myth or Idealized Icon? (Panel)
Chair: Nicol Epple (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

We know the four tenets of True Womanhood and understand the Feminine Mystique. But, today, what gender role prescriptions still proliferate concerning domesticity and work, family affairs and public relationships? This panel seeks to create discussion which explores feminist theories and material applications in current American cultural landscapes. What changes have transpired from past feminist viewpoints and what speculations can made of feminist scholarship and cultural production for the future?

Reboots and Revivals: The Return of Television (Roundtable)
Chair: Lisa Perdigao (Florida Institute of Technology)

While film has an extensive history of remaking classics and blockbusters for new audiences, television’s recent reboots and revivals suggest new ideas about the limitations and possibilities of continuing narratives in a medium defined by seriality. Recent reboots and revivals include Arrested Development (2013- ), Heroes Reborn (2015-2016), Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016- ), Girl Meets World (2014-2017), Fuller House (2016- ), 24: Legacy (2016- ), Prison Break: Resurrection (2017- ), and Twin Peaks (2017- ) while series such as Will & GraceDynastyRoseanneCharmed, and American Idol are slated for returns in the near future.

Teaching and Learning Spaces: Real, Fantastic, and Imagined (Panel)
Chair: Carine Mardorossian (SUNY University at Buffalo)

This session is devoted to the exploration of teaching and learning as real, fantastic, and imagined spaces. It welcomes contributions that address pedagogical representations and practices, theories, issues, experiments, and debates in education.

Political Implications of the Portal Fantasy (Panel)
Chair: Emily Lauer (SUNY Suffolk County Community College)

Portal Fantasies offer a unique way to comment on the current political situation, in their capacity as invented worlds with a permeable link to our own. The portal can act as a funhouse mirror, reflecting our own world back to us in grotesque and illuminating ways, or it can offer stark contrasts to our own world which often take the form of escapist, superior alternatives. This session invites papers that explore how authors have used the portal fantasy to comment on the politics of our world in various ways.

'The World is Changed': Fantasy Literature in the Anthropocene (Seminar)
Chair: Stephanie Weaver (St. John’s University), Lisa Robinson (St. John’s University)

The Anthropocene, or "The Age of Man," focuses on the exploitation of resources and the possibilities of resiliency and sustainability in the wake of anthropocentric-induced crisis. This seminar seeks to unpack the various understandings and responses to the human-dominated geological age, specifically through the lens of the fantasy genre. Papers are sought that discuss the role of environmental crisis in various areas of fantasy literature and the multifaceted responses and solutions to preventing the destruction of worlds because of the Anthropocene.

Free Range: An Open Inquiry into the Nonhuman in Latinx Studies (Panel)
Chair: Lacie Rae Buckwalter (Cornell University)

In this panel, we propose to explore the roles of human-nonhuman encounters in the field of Latinx Studies and Literature at large. How do animal, human, botanical, and epistemological bodies alter the way we approach ontological interpretations in Latinx texts, visual art, and/or performances? In addition to these concerns, this call for papers seeks work that traverses a varied range of bodies and utilizes interdisciplinary frameworks in innovative ways. Topics might include, but are not limited to: race and animal studies, transgender bodies and queering the nonhuman, corporeal ecologies, critical approaches to landscapes, bodies of land, and water.

Arthurian Legend in the 20th and 21st Centuries (Panel)
Chair: Susan Austin (Landmark College)

The past hundred years have brought the legend of King Arthur to Broadway, television, comedy, and Disney; countless authors have appropriated or reimagined the legend and elements from it. How have films, television shows, games, comics, and books for all audiences and ages employed Arthurian characters, themes, motifs, and plots? How have these changes reflected shifting cultural attitudes and values? What do recent retellings and appropriations of Arthurian legend tell us about ourselves and the generations immediately preceding us? What do we want and need from King Arthur and his court?

Space and Psyche in Contemporary Latinx/Latin American Culture (Panel)
Chair: Thomas Conners (University of Pennsylvania)

Psychoanalysis ponders the ways in which subjects form while navigating the dynamic environments they inhabit. With movement across the Americas in constant flux, contemporary Latin American and Latinx literatures offer insights into this border-crossing psyche. Examining the implications of crossing, moving around, and standing in the spaces, we ask: how is a subject formed when straddling borders, languages, racial identities, and national affiliations? What are the formal, affective, and aesthetic manifestations of this in literature?

Human, Animal, Post-Human: Ecocriticism and Materialism in a Global Context (Panel)
Chair: Mark Epstein (Princeton University), Daniele Fioretti (Miami University)

This panel welcomes contributions that focus on the areas of tension regarding ecocriticism and the “post-human”: natural – 'human' sciences, materialism – postmodernism, global – national/regional, historical – contemporary. It also welcomes reflections on the possibilities for communication between species, and what “autonomy” and “(self)-emancipation” might possibly mean for non-human species, given the very limited forms of inter-species communication we have established so far.

Sequence and/or Simultaneity: Time and Narrative in Comics and Graphic Narratives (Panel)
Chair: Heike Polster (The University of Memphis)

This panel seeks new scholarly work on the representation of temporality in comics and graphic narratives, with a particular attention to the formal qualities of comics. Papers may address sequentiality, simultaneity, seriality, human vs. cosmic time, eruptions of the past into the present, or other experimental permutations of time in comics. Graphic narratives from other countries and traditions outside of the Anglophone world are welcome.

The Urgency of Now (and Then): Contemporary Representations of African American History (Panel)
Chair: Maria Rice Bellamy (City University of New York)

This panel seeks papers analyzing the contemporary significance of recent representations of African American history in literature, television and film as well as in the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Papers are invited on such works as Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, WGN America’s Underground, Ava DuVernay’s 13th, and the NMAAHC. Papers should discuss the relationship between the presented history and the contemporary moment and may address such questions as: What does the current prominence of such works say about this moment in United States history and society? How do the struggles of the past resonate with the protests of the present?

New Approaches in Zombie Studies (Panel)
Chair: Derek McGrath (SUNY University at Buffalo)
This session looks at zombies, including as they were defined by Night of the Living Dead, filmed in NeMLA’s host city Pittsburgh by local director George Romero. How have zombies changed in recent years, in their composition, narrative format, and metaphorical status? What new insights can be garnered looking to earlier conceptions of the zombie, and conceptions from Haiti and around the world? How have zombies served as commentary on medicine, social media, anti-intellectualism, economics, and society?

Spaces of Hope and Desperation in Science Fiction  (Panel)
Chair: Elif Sendur (SUNY Binghamton)

This panel aims to consider speculative/science fiction’s spatial imagination vis-à-vis hope and despair. Topics may include the kinds of dystopian spaces SF proposes, space and its spatial representation, gendered spaces within the SF genre, environment and its future imagined by SF, and the representation of the instability or hope. All forms of SF literature, including short stories, novels, films, anime, manga, and TV shows are welcome. 

Monsters and Monstrosity: A Tribute to Mary Shelley (Creative)
Chair: Richard Johnston (United States Air Force Academy)

1818 marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. To honor Shelley’s enduring novel, and to compliment the critical panel on the literature and culture of 1818, this roundtable welcomes creative work, in any genre, on monsters or the idea of monstrosity. In the interest of including as many voices and as possible, participants will be asked to limit presentations of original creative work to 10 minutes.

Postcolonial Queers: Representations, Remediations, Revolutions (Panel)
Chair: Christian Ylagan (Western University)

While Western theories such as Judith Butler’s performative thesis have been productive in opening up the discursive grounds on gender and sexuality, these frameworks often limn bodies in abstract ways that downplay their materialities and contexts. This panel thus hopes to build on the notion of a queer intersectionality whereby gender and sexual identity are inextricable from race, geography, linguistic modes, embattled histories, and cultural contexts.

Seelenlandschaften (Soul Landscapes) in German Children and Youth Novels (Panel)
Chair: Mona Eikel-Pohen (Syracuse University)

The panel invites proposals on German children and youth novels from the late 20th / early 21st century with a focus on innovative interpretation approaches (e.g. re-telling, drawing, or building in Minecraft), on respective movie adaptations, and on the impact of symbolic and real spaced for the mental and intellectual development of younger readers and its relevance for identity formation e.g. as reading text in middle and high school or higher education.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fall 2017: Welcome Back and Welcoming Aboard NCSCL’s Graduate Assistants

Greetings Readers, Skimmers, and Seekers of Literary Wisdom,

We look forward to a productive and insightful academic year, bringing you different perspectives into children/young adult literature through a variety of mediums. By exploring not just printed books, but films, television shows, comics and digital content, the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature can be your portal to a greater understanding of the concepts and creativity woven into these stories.   

The exploration of children’s literature takes a community, and this year we hope to show how those perceptions evolve or differ through the words and works of professors, fellow graduate and undergraduate students, and from their intended audience: children and teens.

Please check us out on our social media platforms where we post EVERYTHING, like upcoming events, historical moments in literature, current research musings, book reviews, author interviews, and any other delicate morsels we find appetizing:

Twitter: @NCSChildLit
Instagram: NCSChildlit  

Andrea Kade, Graduate Assistant

Hey Readers! My name is Andrea, and I am a second year English graduate student specializing in Children’s Literature. I’m also a third semester Teaching Associate, who has taught courses in writing and rhetoric, as well as, introduction to literature. My broad range of research interests focus on everything from psychoanalysis and feminist theory to the constructs of identity in childhood. Currently, I’m examining gothic and horror in children and YA literature/popular culture through an independent course for the fall semester. I’m indulging in some nostalgic behavior by studying a few texts of my childhood like, Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes, with newer titles like Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener, along with source texts like the Grimm Brother’s Folktales.

Pumpkin Patch in Florida, 
many October moons ago
My love for books started in preschool (where it probably does for most English students), whereupon my mother promised me I would “learn to read, if I went to school.” Running upstairs after the first day of class, I hungrily tore open the pages of P.D. Eastman’s Go Dog Go! and burst into tears. I couldn’t read a single word. Clearly, nobody explained to my girl-child self that one does not learn to read in a single day. In 5th grade, I had my first encounter with adult literature, in a place that happens for many, the bathroom. I found my father’s copy of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire placed on the ledge of the frosted window and became a devout follower of the author during my teen angst years. Rice’s novels heavily influenced my taste for the gothic and fulfilled the wanderlust within my soul. Over the years, my reading preferences have leaned towards speculative fiction with no bias on any of the sub-genres, I love them all—sci-fi, alternate history, fantasy, dystopian.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I am the exhausted doting mama to three lively, young children, and have the exceptional privilege of exploring these books through their eyes and experiences, while simultaneously, receiving the sweetest snuggles. Contextualizing these works through child and adult perspectives has given me a remarkable slant on the ways I can approach literature and theory.

I’ll see you on the pages. –A

Chris Deming, Graduate Assistant

Somewhere in San Diego
Hello all! My name is Chris Deming, and I’m a second year English grad student specializing in Children’s Literature.  I’m a first semester Teaching Associate for an Intro to Literature class covering the topic Identity in a Technological Age, the goal of which is to explore the nature of identity and how it is constructed, what constitutes technology, and why it is important for this relationship to be depicted in literature. In answering these questions, the class addresses the growing reliance on technology in contemporary society, and what that means for the construction of identity.  Working in conjunction with my class is my current area of research: Posthuman theory. In studying it, I hope to reexamine the questions of what constitutes “human,” and how contemporary Children’s and YA fiction is addressing this with the continually increasing motifs of technology and human entwinement.

I don’t remember the first book I ever read, but I know once I discovered my father’s hoard of old fantasy and sci-fi novels in middle school, there was never a moment I didn’t have my nose in the pages of one book with another ready in the wing. My love of reading inspired me to pursue literature classes, and from there I fell in love with theory and the ability to use books as a window into not just the fantastical realms on the page, but windows to our world and the issues of the times.

I look forward to exploring literature with everyone in tow, and I’ll see y’all on the blog!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 NCSCL Visiting Scholar: Michael Joseph

“How to Do Things with Poems”

The 2017 NCSCL Visiting Scholar’s Lecture

Event Details:
Who: Michael Joseph
Rutgers University

Date: Tuesday, April 11th
Time: 3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

The National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature are proud to sponsor this year’s visiting scholar, poet Michael Joseph. His lecture, “How to Do Things with Poems” will consider what Xenephon of Athen’s definition of beauty as “the luminous manifestation of a perfect character of being” has to contribute to our understanding of children’s poetry. Our consideration will take the form of a close analysis of two children’s poems by Robert Graves, an English poet, novelist, critic and classicist.

More information can be found here.

Michael Joseph is a poet, author, critic, and rare books librarian. He received his M.A. in English Literature from the University of Hartford and an M.A. in library service from Columbia University. He is the author of 13 artists’ books and chapbooks of poetry or fiction. Currently, two artists’ books featuring his poems, done in collaboration with artist Sarah K. Stengle, are in VISPO, a traveling exhibition supported by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He is the author of The Teaching Guide to the Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature and has published The True History of Puss in Boots on Mars, with illustrator Henry Charles, through Cats in the Basement Press in 2017. His book Inherent Ogres is in press, with a forward by NCSCL director Joseph T. Thomas. In addition to scholarly essays and reviews that have appeared in numerous books and journals­—including The Lion and the Unicorn and The Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (to name a few)—Michael Joseph has also taught numerous courses at Rutgers University on various subjects in children’s literature.

He is currently working on a monograph about Robert Graves’ children’s writing.

Check back for more updates as the event approaches!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why is the Wolf Always the Bad Guy?

On Wednesday our director Dr. Joseph Thomas was invited to speak with the third grade classroom at High Tech Elementary in San Diego about representations of wolves in literature. Their teacher Kelsey Van Hook had already laid some ground work for Dr. Thomas, the students were eager and prepared for what he had to say. Their classroom was a testament to their creativity and knowledge about wolves. Poster boards, pages full of questions from students, and student artwork featuring wolves were hung high for all to see.

It is always interesting to observe young people actively learning and engaged with new concepts, one never knows what they will infer from the information presented. This group of eight and nine year old kids were especially happy to not only hear Dr. Thomas read them Lon Po Po, translated and illustrated by Ed Young, but to listen and comprehend the analysis he provided. As curious as I was to see how well they would understand the complexity Dr. Thomas brought to Lon Po Po and the use of the wolf in folktales and literature, I was equally impressed by their ability to internalize and decipher what was presented to them.

All of the students wrote Dr. Thomas questions.
Dr. Thomas provided them with an opportunity to understand the wolf as more than the signpost for evilness within a narrative. This concept eludes adults and children alike, we are trained to spot the wolf and know immediately there is danger on the horizon. It is not that these representations aren't accurate, or that wolves are not dangerous, but that most of the time they have nothing to do with the wolf in the wild, and much more to do with our own fears and anxieties about humanity and all those animalistic tendencies that reside within human nature. The wolf then becomes less scary as an animal and provides an opportunity to identify what lies behind images of the wolf in literature and get to the root of what is truly troubling about a given narrative or character. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

CFP from Ithaca College & The Irish Society for the Study of Children's Literature Conference

Pippi to Ripley 4: Sex and Gender in Children’s Literature, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Comics

Deadline: January 15, 2017

Location: Ithaca College, NY
Dates: April 21–22, 2017

Description: Pippi to Ripley 4 is an interdisciplinary conference with a focus on women and gender in imaginative fiction. We invite papers devoted to fictional characters in all media, including: comics, films, television, and video games as well as in folklore, mythology, and children's and young adult literature. This year’s conference includes a special focus on:

Fan Intersectionality: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Fan Communities

Keynote Speaker: SAMMUS performs her acclaimed nerdcore hip-hop and talks about race, geekdom, and feminism.

Special guest: Breakout YA author LJ Alonge, author of the graphic novel series Blacktop.

How to apply: Please send a 300–500-word abstract to Katharine Kettridge, Ithaca College, Department of English at

For more information: PDF


CFP—Betwixt and Between: Boundaries and Peripheries in Children’s Culture
Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature Conference 2017

Deadline: January 16, 2017

Location: Dublin City University, All Hallows Campus
Dates: April 28–29 2017

Description: Boundaries, both physical and abstract, abound in children’s literature, as factors including age, gender and class have infuenced, and continue to limit, texts provided for children, and how and where those texts are consumed. Critical debate about the content and purpose of books, films and other media productions for young readers is ongoing, as long-established links between socialisation and children’s literature are interrogated and re-imagined to reflect changing social conditions and moral codes. Although children’s literature has moved from the margins and is now an established field of academic study, peripheries, too, persist and proliferate. Translated texts, which cross linguistic boundaries, and those produced in minority languages, such as Irish, seldom receive extensive exposure or critical attention. With the advent of digital media, the printed book is itself becoming increasingly marginalised.
Proposals are invited on the overall theme and associated topics in the context of both Irish and international literature for children, and also in relation to print and other media.
Keynote Speaker: Emerita Professor Máire Messenger Davies

How to apply: Proposals of 300 words maximum should be sent to the conference co-organiser, Caoimhe Nic Lochlainn at and be CC-ed to

Subject line should read “ISSCL Proposal.”

For more information: