Cotsen Conference: Sept. 11-13, 2013

“Putting the Figure on the Map
Imagining Sameness and Difference for Children”

Co-organized by Andrea Immel and Emer O’Sullivan
Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University Sept. 11-13, 2013
Teaching Geography:   hand-colored wood engraving, "The Party," from The Little Traveller  (Dean & Monday, [ca. 1830])

Teaching Geography: hand-colored wood engraving, “The Party,” from The Little Traveller (Dean & Monday, [ca. 1830])

The world seemed to shrink during the nineteenth century, thanks to improved communications and transportation that facilitated travel, whether for commerce, conquest or leisure. Similarly the wonders of the world could be brought into the home via photography, maps, travel writing, and fiction. The representation of foreign lands inevitably required the illustration and description of their residents, which gave rise to a rich repository of colorful images of diversity.

Children’s books were important vehicles for the expression of senses of national identity that could confirm the superiority of one culture, marginalize others, instill a sense of international brotherhood or regional patriotism. Through a tangle of national types, stereotypes, and archetypes, children’s books shaped discourse as much as they reflected mainstream adult culture.

Cotsen Curator Andrea Immel welcomes attendees

Cotsen Curator Andrea Immel welcomes attendees

Emer O'Sullivan delivers the keynote talk: "Picturing the World for Children: Early 19th-c. Images of Foreign Nations"

Emer O’Sullivan delivers the keynote talk: “Picturing the World for Children: Early 19th-c. Images of Foreign Nations”

Exploring these themes, and others, this interdisciplinary Cotsen Library conference featured presentations that drew on the approaches of imagology, history, anthropology, psychology, and literary criticism, to discuss modes of expression arising that either targeted children, within or without the classroom, or appropriated discourses for them, to present competing, complimentary or contradictory images of foreign nations.

Presenting scholars represented institutions across the United States, Canada, and Europe, including: Princeton, University of Toronto, University of Innsbruck, University of Cologne, Leuphana University, Aarhus University, Roehampton University, Anglia Ruskin University, Ohio State University, and Wells College.  (A full listing of speaker, abstracts, and biographical profiles, as well as the conference program schedule is available on the Conference website.)

Jill Shefrin discussing travel illustrations, maps, and "dissected maps" for children

Jill Shefrin discussing travel illustrations, maps, and “dissected maps” for children

Setsuko Noguchi discussing Japanese Suguroku picture games at workshop

Setsuko Noguchi discussing Japanese Suguroku picture games at workshop

The conference program also included  two workshops focusing on materials from the Cotsen research collection  — Japanese Picture Sugoroku games and English “dissected maps” and geography games — with a selection of collection objects available for viewing by attendees.

 

Two of the Cotsen collection items on display for attendees to
see after the speakers’ presentations:

Detail showing Africa and the Mediterranean area from an English "dissected map" comprised of 40 pieces mounted on mahogany; it served as a jig-saw puzzle to both teach and entertain children learning about geography. "Africa in its Principal Divisions"  (London: J. Spilsbury, 1767).

Detail showing Africa and the Mediterranean area from an English “dissected map” comprised of 40 pieces mounted on mahogany; it served as a jig-saw puzzle to both teach and entertain children learning about geography.
“Africa in its Principal Divisions”
(London: J. Spilsbury, 1767).

Japanese Soguroku Game Board  コドモアソビスゴロク ("A game on children's play") (Tokyo: Hakubunkan, 1917).  Soguroku within sogoroku: the game board's theme is "children's play," with 12 panels of pictures are arranged by month. Each panel shows a children's leisure activity in that month; the panel for Jan. (bottom right) appropriately shows children playing sugoroku.

Japanese Soguroku Game Board
コドモアソビスゴロク
(“A game on children’s play”)
(Tokyo: Hakubunkan, 1917).
Soguroku within sogoroku: the game board’s theme is “children’s play,” with 12 panels of pictures are arranged by month. Each panel shows a children’s leisure activity in that month; the panel for Jan. (bottom right) appropriately shows children playing sugoroku.

Some Presenters & Discussion at the Conference
(click on any thumbnail image to view larger version)

Gillian Lathey: "Children's Encounters with Other Peoples at the 1851 Great Exhibition"

Gillian Lathey:
“Children’s Encounters with Other Peoples at the 1851 Great Exhibition”

Lara Saguisag:  "Foreign Yet Familiar: The Immigrant Child in Progressive Era Comic Strips, 1896-1912"

Lara Saguisag:
“Foreign Yet Familiar: The Immigrant Child in Progressive Era Comic Strips, 1896-1912″

Eric Johnson: "Politicizing Childhood: Oncle Hansi and Alsatian Nationalism, 1912-1919"

Eric Johnson:
“Politicizing Childhood: Oncle Hansi and Alsatian Nationalism, 1912-1919″

Cynthia Koepp:  "A World of Difference: Pedagogical Imagination of Louis-François Jauffret"

Cynthia Koepp:
“A World of Difference: Pedagogical Imagination of Louis-François Jauffret”

Nina Christensen: "Education to Tolerance: World Citizens in 18th C. Century Children's Literature"

Nina Christensen:
“Education to Tolerance: World Citizens in 18th C. Century Children’s Literature”

Minjie Chen:  "Foreigners Not (Yet) in One Box: Race & Foreign Nationals in Chinese Children's Materials, 1890-1920"

Minjie Chen:
“Foreigners Not (Yet) in One Box: Race & Foreign Nationals in Chinese Children’s Materials, 1890-1920″

Gabriele von Glasenapp: "Information or Exoticization? Constructing Religious Difference in Children's Non-Fiction"

Gabriele von Glasenapp:
“Information or Exoticization? Constructing Religious Difference in Children’s Non-Fiction”

One of the lively discussion after the presentations

One of the lively discussion after the presentations

Opening conference reception, held in the Cotson Library's Bookscape gallery

Opening conference reception, held in the Cotson Library’s Bookscape gallery

A Closer Look at Cotsen’s Collection

The text below is adapted from Byrd Pinkerton’s WPRB blog posting and links to the audio interviews that Byrd conducted with Andrea Immel, Cotsen Curator, in June and July, 2013, with additional photographs taken by Byrd of the items discussed. (Byrd Pinkerton ’15 is a German major who works for WPRB, the Princeton student-run radio station.) A Closer Look at Cotsen’s Collection: Audio Interviews with Cotsen’s Curator by Byrd Pinkerton

It’s easy to experience the Cotsen Gallery, with its giant indoor tree and little cottage. But behind the gallery’s glass wall, there are thousands of books–some tiny, some massive, some gilt or marbled. That’s just a fraction of the collection, since more books (and dolls and lantern slides and board games and toy theaters…) are hiding out elsewhere in the vaults of Firestone.

And though they can’t be climbed on or played with in quite the same way as the Gallery furniture is, these treasures are accessible too. This summer, Princeton student and Cotsen staffer Byrd Pinkerton began a series of radio stories on different objects from the Cotsen Collection, which are now posted on Princeton’s WPRB Station blog.

In each piece, she talks to Cotsen Curator, Andrea Immel about an item, its history, what we do or don’t know about it, and why it might be interesting to researchers. The audio is complemented with text and photographs, but listeners can also page the items themselves and enjoy them in the reading room.

Paper People in the Cotsen Library

Paper dolls at a war conference  ("The Paper People")

Paper dolls at a war conference
(“The Paper People”)

Taken literally, the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ usually applies to your average book in a bookstore. It also applies, however, to rare books.

When I first decided to highlight pieces of Cotsen Library’s rare book collection for this series, I was eager to talk about some of the showier items the collection has to offer-Queen Elizabeth’s Latin grammar book, the Beatrix Potter original letters or elegant Spanish toy theaters from the 1930s.

Instead, Andrea and I decided to begin with The Paper People an unassuming text, printed and cloth-bound in the 1800s, and see what the information that can be gleaned from the contents, the cover, the catalogue of advertisements, and even the end-papers.

Hear the audio interview, with illustrations, on WPRB blog site.

Jeu de Cavagnole

French game "Jeu de Cavagnole" inside its box

French game “Jeu de Cavagnole” inside its box

I’m not a fan of bingo. I would go so far as to say that I strongly dislike it. But even I was delighted to play with this 18th century pre-cursor to the game, the French Jeu de Cavagnole.

During our interview, Andrea and I walked through the complicated apparatus of the game, all kinds of ivory spindles, cages and beads with scrolls…

One of the biggest differences between this game and your average bingo experience is the game board.  Jeu de Cavagnole decorations have nothing to do with the gameplay at all. They’re just conversation pieces, designed to move the experience beyond simple gambling.

Hear the audio interview, with illustrations, on WPRB blog site.

A is for Alphabet

Panorama cylinder strip

Panorama cylinder strip

Once we figure out that LMNO isn’t all one letter and S, C and K stop seeming quite so redundant and confusing, we generally don’t spent a lot of time learning the alphabet.

Still, whether we’re thinking about it or not, there’s a new line of alphabet teaching tools for every generation of kids: alphabet puzzles, alphabet blocks, songs and poems and books with associative word pictures.

This week, my conversation with Andrea was all about alphabets throughout the ages. While we’re probably not going to learn a whole about the alphabet itself from these games and books, it turns out that they can tell us a lot about us: the most common parts of our day-to-day, the moral values we want to pass down to our children, even our sense of humor.

Hear the audio interview, with illustrations, on WPRB blog site.