Sunday, September 29, 2013

Recent Children's Lit Books of the Critical Nature

Given The Unjournal of Children's Literature's soon-to-grow book review section, my recent project has been to keep up with new scholarly books in the field of children's literature. Finding some intriguing titles, I'd like to share some of my discoveries. In our burgeoning field there are several amazing new books to discuss, so I first have to apologize for only highlighting a few this time around:

Second-Generation Memory and Contemporary Children's Literature: Ghost Images by Anastasia Ulanowicz published by Routledge in March, 2013. This book, declaring that second-generation memory "is characterized by vicarious, rather than direct, experience of the past," caught my eye because of my curiosities about the impact of memory on children's literature at large. Usually stuck on notions about how an author is in touch with their own childhood memories and how this may impact their writing, Ulanowicz's book promises to challenge my own assumptions about memory itself by claiming that memories can be adopted instead of formed from personal experience. Dedicated to examining how child protagonists adopt the memories of their elders, "this study shows how novels such as Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993) and Judy Blume’s Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself (1977) — both of which feature protagonists who adapt their elders’ memories into their own mnemonic repertoires — implicitly reject Cartesian notions of the unified subject in favor of a view of identity as always-already social, relational, and dynamic in character." Ulanowicz is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida.

The Children's Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities edited by Anna Mae Duane, published by The University of Georgia Press in June, 2013. Always a fan of interdisciplinary work, The Children's Table had immediate appeal for me. Referencing the image of children relegated to a separate table at holidays and other adult-run events, this book's organizing principle embraces this image and claims a space for scholars to discuss childhood and its place in various adultcentric fields and at the same time challenges this "seating arrangement." Essays feature scholars from fields such as architecture and law as well as children's literature and cultural studies. Well-known in the field of children's literature is Robin Bernstein, who wrote an essay for this collection titled "Childhood as Performance." Duane is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Connecticut.

Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children's Literature by Michelle Ann Abate, published by The John Hopkins University Press in February, 2013. As a passionate advocate that children's literature is no genre of mere sugar-coated fantasies, it's exhilarating to see a new book that not only blasts this misconception, but also promises to examine and tease out meanings of the killing trope in children's lit. Abate's book was released in a climate of Hunger Games hysteria, including protests about the trilogy's violence. Using this hysteria as an introduction, this article in the Boston Globe interviews Abate about her book. Abate is an Associate Professor at Hollins University.

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