Wednesday, April 20, 2016

His Soul is Rising: Visiting Scholar Michelle Martin's Lecture

Scholar Michelle Martin opened her lecture, “Lynching 101: Young Adult Primers on the Murder of Emmett Till, at SDSU’s Love Library with a sobering, bluesy ballad, “The Ballad of Emmett Till” from playwright Ifa Bayeza:

“Come on let me tell yuh the tale of Emmett Till / Though they put his body down / His soul is rising.”

Introduced by Dr. Joseph Thomas, who described her as “clear-eyed, elegant, and aesthetically nuanced,” Michelle Martin tackled the horrifying truth of the brutal 1955 murder in Mississippi—which helped spark the Civil Rights Movement—of 14-year-old Emmett Till. With 2016 marking of the 61st anniversary of Till’s brutal murder and the American political climate as divided as it has ever been, Martin described ways to include our country’s horrifying past of slavery and objectification in children’s literature. A line is drawn in considering the way that children’s texts often rework sensitive topics, such as racism, to be less authentic as an attempt to protect children. And with this, an inevitable question arises: How, then, does one tell the truth?

The prevalence of violence in our society, from gut-churning brutality in in TV shows like “Game of Thrones” to grim news reports saturating radio shows and news stations, is considered a norm, while also having a numbing effect on our minds. Michelle Martin’s research is focused on how Y.A. texts are engaging young adults more than ever, especially historical fiction about Emmett Till’s lynching. One such book is Chris Crowe’s Mississippi Trial, 1955 and the historical nonfiction companion Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case. These intricate texts of blackness, she notes, are a critical site of resistance and transformation and, thus, important mediations between young readers because they combat sensationalism and clear up inaccuracies surrounding the trial and Emmett Till himself. Bringing this awareness to picture books, on the other hand, is more difficult. Poet laureate Marilyn Nelson wrote A Wreath for Emmett Till as a narrative poem especially for young readers in the the Italian sonnet style, in an effort to try to find the right words without mitigating the reality of Emmett Till’s death. It serves as a remembrance of Till’s murder, his mother’s loss, and the memory of other countless victims that suffered through these atrocities. It’s worth noting that these sequences of sonnets are interlinked and called a “crown of sonnets”—a heroic “crown” for Emmett Till that harkens to the wreath in the book’s title.

In the end, telling and retelling these stories—of Emmett Till, of Eric Garner, of Trayvon Martin—decreases the power of the perpetrators. The contemporary erasure or retelling of Black history is an unsettling commonality due to white privilege and speaks to a need for more accurate narratives of our history. And may those narratives start in young children’s books and young adult novels, and may they propel future generations into action.

Dr. Martin’s visit definitely gave the NCSCL some really intelligent ideas to muse over until next year’s visiting scholar. We thank her for her time and inspiration!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

2016 Children's Literature Conferences and Call for Papers

Welcome to another round of calls-for-papers and upcoming children’s literature conferences!

Somehow—if you remember our last CFP blogpost—this post once again falls on the last stretches of the semester, with finals week only 5 weeks away, and summer sunshine just on the other side of all of those responsibilities between now and then. But summer’s the perfect time to get out there with your ideas and proposals, and here are a few children’s literature prompts to help you.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Critical Perspectives

“Editors seek essays that critically engage with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life and works, including the Little House series, her journalism, her letters, and Pioneer Girl: The annotated Biography. We are interested in essays that consider Wilder’s relationship with the academy as well as her enduring place in American popular culture. We are especially interested in essays that consider Wilder’s place in the classroom, at the elementary level and also in university curricula.”

For a range of topics, visit the website below.

Deadline: April 15, 2016

  • Submit abstracts of 300–500 words along with a short CV to Miranda Green-Barteet ( ) and Anne Phillips ( by the deadline.
  • Accepted essays will be due no later than September 1, 2016

The Child Before Adulthood, Midwest Modern Language Association
Dates: November 10­–13, 2016
Location: St. Louis, MO

From the late Victorian period throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, Anglo-American children’s literature and young adult fiction experienced a sudden surge in popularity. While some sentimental or didactic North American literature reinforced obedience to parental and societal expectations, such as Susan Warner’s The Wide Wide World (1850) and Martha Finley’s popular Elsie Dinsmore series (1867-1905), other works explored the possibilities resulting from disobedient adolescence, such as Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gablesseries (1908-1920). Meanwhile, British fantasy literature by authors such as George McDonald and E. Nesbit idealized the middle-class English child as subversive protagonist of the modern fairy story, supernaturally combating social ills and injustices existing in the adult system of legal justice, while at the same time testing and submitting to acceptable moral, social, and gender parameters. Such narratives, whether undercutting or reaffirming adult behavior, also establish childhood as a unique space of negotiation, perception, and decision occurring prior to adulthood.

This session invites proposals for individual papers on the societal pressures in children or young adult literature from this period that worked to shape and necessitate the embodiment of womanhood or manhood, queer or subversive resistance to conforming to idealized, or imperative notions of gender norms, the childish world conflicting with the public or adult sphere, rejection of female or male attire, duty, or performance, and spatial avoidance of the domestic sphere by means of nature or adventure.”

Deadline: April 30, 2016

  • Send Abstracts no longer than 250 words to Lydia Craig at

Youth Literature and Media
Organization: Midwest Popular and American Culture Association
Dates: October 6–9, 2016
Location: Chicago, IL, Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare

We are looking for proposals for arguably the hottest area in popular culture: Youth Literature and Media. Youth Culture is everywhere. From the rise of YA Lit to the fall of Facebook, twenty-five is the new eighteen. The Millennials are here. This area is for the study of Lit and Media for Youth (all three terms broadly conceived), representations of youth in Lit and Media, and youth as consumers and producers of Lit and Media.
We want to know all about the kids these days, from their classrooms to the parents’ basements, from S.E. Hinton to Luke Herzog, from the slew of really really rich youth who play videogames and apply make-up on YouTube to the tens of thousands more who mod everything from videogames to movies to Legos into their own Maker-inspired, bricolage cultural productions. Who are they, what are they reading and doing, why, and who cares? Pop Culture Studies is a multi-disciplinary endeavor, so bring us your close readings, your ethnographies, your visual analysis, and hard core stats: anything and everything as long as it’s about youth and popular culture!”
Deadline: April 30, 2016

  • Submit abstracts (up to 300 words) along with your name, affiliation, and email to the Youth Literature and Media area at (include whether or not you’ll need a projector)

Submit Essays or Writing on Gender and Literacy
Organization: Gender and Literacy Assembly: NCTE Gender Studies Assembly

An NCTE affiliate, GALA is published every December and seeks submission on gender and K-12 education. Write about how you teach or address gender in the K–12 classroom; how boys and girls learn and more.”

Gothic Association of New Zealand (GANZA)’s third biennial conference: Gothic Afterlives: Mutations, Histories, and Returns’
Dates: January 23–24, 2017
Location: Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

GANZA is interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together scholars, students, teachers and professionals from a number of Gothic disciplines, including literature, film, music, television, fashion, architecture, and other popular culture forms. It is the aim of the Association to not only place a focus on Australasian Gothic scholarship, but also to build international links with the wider Gothic community as a whole.
The conference invites abstracts for 20-minute presentations related to the theme of ‘Gothic Afterlives’.
For a range of topics, please visit their site at:
Contact Dr. Lorna Piatti-Farnell ( ) and/or Dr. Erin Mercer (
Deadline: August 1, 2016

  • Please email abstracts of 200 words to the conference organizers at:
  • Abstracts should include your name, affiliation, email address, the title of your proposed paper, and a short bio (100 words max).

Dystopia, The Hunger Games, And the Culture of Death
Organization: SAMLA, Myrna Santos
Dates: November 4–6, 2016

The word utopia, coined by St. Thomas More, seems to be a Latin pun: It is used in the sense of eu-topia, a “good place” or “ideal society,” which More claimed was his intended sense, but the spelling of u-topia means “nowhere” and is often taken to suggest that eutopia is impossible, as well as, nonexistent. More’s term eventually suggested a more practical word, dystopia, and speculative fiction has benefited from this concept over the course of many years. Young adult literature, and films based on this literature, has particularly embraced this concept, and this panel seeks to explore the reasons for this phenomenon. Papers on trilogies such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, as well as other works, are welcome.”

Deadline: June 6, 2016


Flow 2016 Conference on Television and New Media
Organization: Flow 2016
Dates: September 15–17, 2016
Location: Austin, Texas

The 2016 Flow Conference will feature a series of roundtables, each organized around a discussion question on contemporary issues in television and new media culture and scholarship. Respondents are asked to submit a brief (150-word) abstract addressing one of the Flow 2016 roundtable questions.”

Deadline: May 20, 2016, 5 p.m. (CST)

  • Submit a brief (150 words) abstract addressing one one of the Flow 2016 roundtable questions, using the online form on their website (above)
  • Participants are encouraged to let the conference coordinators know if they are willing to participate in another roundtable if their first choice has too many responses
  • Upon acceptance, respondents will be asked to expand their abstract to a 600–800-word position paper, due late August 2016
  • Direct any questions/concerns to:
And don’t forget to check out this year’s ChLA conference, hosted by The Ohio State University, on the theme of “Animation”: our very own Dr. Jerry Griswold appeared on the topic list and Gene Luen Yang will be a featured speaker!

Good luck, everyone, on upcoming finals, final papers, and submissions for this year's conferences and calls for papers!