Appel à contributions. The Role of the Child as Citizen: Constructing Childhood through Agency and Activism

Nous avons le plaisir d’annoncer l’appel à contributions pour le 15e congrès “The Child and The Book” qui se tiendra du 26 au 28 mai 2022 à l’Université de Malte. Il est intitulé The Role of the Child as Citizen: Constructing Childhood through Agency and Activism.

Literary representations of children have always been influenced by the child’s perceived role in society. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, children have increasingly been viewed as a central influence on both family and nation. Laws related to health, education, work and exposure have been debated and implemented throughout the ages with each new law allowing children better living conditions and wider opportunities to improve themselves. Never, however, have children had the possibility to lead public debate and development as widely as in the current time. Mobilised by the Internet and a growing culture of global activist movements, one might argue that children and young adults are using their voice to lead adults into discussions on all of the contemporary critical issues: environment, climate change, race, immigration, displacement, education, marginalisation, poverty, financial equity and LGBTIQA+ rights.

The Role of the Child as Citizen: Constructing Childhood through Agency and Activism has a twofold objective. On the one hand, we are interested in deepening our understanding of the growing or diminishing power of the child through history, exploring the paradigm of adult control and child emancipation. Representations of this paradigm in children’s literature and media provide insight into the interactions and influences between adults and children, state and family, public concerns and private worries on multiple levels including the political, cultural, aesthetic and pedagogic. Additionally, we encourage discussions on the current state of childhood and the reflections of this in literature and media, such as film, comic books, television series and online fandom activities among others. Across the board, from picture books to presidential inaugurations, we are seeing children and young adults claiming the public sphere as active citizens. What has brought us to this emancipation? What are the opportunities and pitfalls in the current cultural moment? Where may this lead us next?

We invite papers related to the conference theme. Possible areas for investigation include, but are not restricted to children’s literature and:

  • Child and young adult voices on global issues
  • Child and young adult leadership in global movements
  • Children’s literature’s role in the battle for human rights
  • Adult resistance to child power
  • Adult pleasure in consuming childhood
  • The growing power of the child in the long nineteenth century
  • Historical case studies of child agency and activism
  • Representation of child agency and activism in literature
  • Children and young adults narrating positions of power
  • The displaced child
  • Positive relations between younger generations and science
  • The impact of technology on child mobilisation
  • Digital civic engagement Education and social justice
  • Children and young adult literature and the United Nations SDGs
  • Literary fandoms inspiring social change
  • Reflections on the publishing industry

The Role of the Child as Citizen: Constructing Childhood through Agency and Activism will reflect academic diversity and host studies from across different fields of research, academic methods and cultural backgrounds. We welcome proposals for individual papers as well as panels. We particularly encourage graduate students and other early-career scholars to apply.

Please send an abstract of 300 words and a short biography (100 words) as two attached Word documents to: childandbook2022@um.edu.mt before 15 November 2021. Kindly indicate if you plan to attend the conference in person or online.

Panel proposals

Panel proposals should consist of three papers that focus on the main theme of the conference. The panel organiser should invite participants and evaluate each paper in the panel, but the panel as a whole and its individual papers will also be reviewed by external evaluators. For a panel proposal, the panel organisers should submit a short overview statement of the panel theme (300-500 words), a list of participants and the abstracts of their papers.

Abstracts

Abstracts should include the following information:

  • author(s) with affiliation(s)
  • title and text of proposal
  • selected bibliography with 3-5 academic references
  • five keywords

Dates and logistics

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 December 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 January 2022

All submissions are blind reviewed by the members of the Reading Committee.

All abstracts and papers accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English.

Papers will be 20 minutes maximum followed by a 10 minutes discussion.

Poster presentations

Running alongside our main programme, we plan to organise a series of poster presentations focused on the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) in relation to children’s literature, media, and popular culture. We are interested in exploring how the SDGs serve as a focus for agency and activism in both local and international communities, as well as the ways in which these are reflected in books for children. For this purpose, we invite scholars to submit a poster plus brief explanation or a five-minute video including captions related to their work on the SDGs. This work may have taken place in the field of publishing, education (schools), community centres (including libraries) or elsewhere. Chosen projects will be displayed throughout the conference and included in a roundtable discussion. A selection of project leaders may be invited to contribute articles on the projects for publication.

Cécile Boulaire

maître de conférences HDR à l'Université de Tours, est spécialisée en littérature pour la jeunesse.

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