Imagining Sameness and Difference in Children’s Literature just published

The Little Traveller, or A Sketch of the Various Nations of the World (London: Dean and Munday, ca. 1830).

In October 2013, Cotsen hosted the conference, “Putting the Figure on the Map: Imagining Sameness and Difference for Children.”  The monograph based on the proceedings, Imagining Sameness and Difference in Children’s Literature from the Enlightenment to the Present Day co-edited by Emer O’Sullivan (Leuphana University) and Andrea Immel (Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University), has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan in the series “Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature.”   It features thirty-seven black-and white illustrations; for color, the e-book must be purchased.  

The front cover features a charming illustration of stylishly dressed little Parisians holding hands with Alsatian children in traditional costume from the famous picture book Mon village (1917).  While the illustration appears to celebrate friendship, the author/illustrator Oncle Hansi (aka Jean-Jacques Waltz) was only interested in  friendship among French-speaking Alsatians and the French.  At the time Alsace-Lorraine belonged to Germany and Oncle Hansi cruelly caricatured the German-speaking Alsatians as he worked tirelessly to overthrow German rule so that the region could rejoin France.  The propaganda is made palatable by the style of the illustrations and readers now find it difficult to see what the conventions of representation were supposed to communicate.

As O’Sullivan and Immel argue in the introduction, “The identification and evaluation of these conventions concerns practioners–parents, teachers, school librarians, editors, and publishers vetting materials–the process is equally important to literary critics and historians who examine children’s books for evidence of a society’s attitudes and the way those ideas circulate in order to contextualize them.  A nuanced understanding of the what and how and why of portraying sameness and difference is critical to an appreciation of the role of children’s books in promoting social change.”

The twelve essays by leading scholars from the United States and European Union: the roster includes Amanda M. Brian, Nina Christensen, Gabrielle von Glasenapp, Margaret Higonnet, Cynthia J. Koepp, Gillian Lathey, Silke Meyer, Lara Saguisag, Martina Seifert, and Verena Rutschmann.  Texts from Denmark, Germany, France, Russian, and the United States from the last two hundred years are analyzed–not just literary works, but picture books, non-fiction, comics, instructional volumes, novelties with moveable illustrations.   This volume does not attempt to offer a comprehensive survey or history of representations of difference in children’s literature: rather the contributors “offer a sample of the issues and materials that are a part of this history and the kinds of questions that can and must be asked of them if such a survey or history should be written.  By engaging with the past…the authors provide a wider context and a more discerning way to look at diversity and national identify tropes in children’s literature today.”

Dolls and Sights of the Crystal Palace from the series “Aunt Mavor’s Picturebooks for Little Readers.” (London; Routledge, 1852).

Lapland Sketches, or Delineations of the Costume, Habits and Peculiarites of Jens Holm and his Wife Karina Christian. Jens and Karina were exhibited at the Egyptian Hall in London. (London: J. Harris and Son, 1822). Cotsen 40103.

 

Call for papers: Border-Crossing in Children’s Literature

Update: Registration is open until June 8, 2018.

The Second International Symposium for Children’s Literature &
The Fourth US-China Symposium for Children’s Literature

June 14-16, 2018
Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University

The International Symposium for Children’s Literature, first held in 2012 as the US-China Symposium for Children’s Literature, was born at an exciting moment in children’s books and reading in China. Imported/translated picture books and juvenile literature, along with parent-child shared reading practice, were increasingly introduced to rising middle-class Chinese families and rejuvenated the creation of domestic works. The symposium has become an important venue where leading scholars from China, USA, and an expanding list of countries exchange the latest research on children’s literature, fertilizing the field with inquiries that cross national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries.

The Cotsen Children’s Library is proud to host the Second International Symposium for Children’s Literature in 2018. Cotsen is a special collection of international historical children’s materials housed within Princeton University Library. It is one of the few institutions, outside East Asia, that house a sizeable and growing research collection of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean books, magazines, manuscripts, original artwork, prints, games, and toys for children’s entertainment and education.

The Second International Symposium for Children’s Literature seeks to facilitate interchange of ideas on new issues in children’s literature research between scholars from East and West. We are particularly interested in two thematic areas.

(1) Children’s literature on the screen
Electronic screens have joined paper to carry text, images, and other multimodal contents that entertain, educate, inspire, and stimulate children. Shelby A. Wolf (2014) challenged us to widen literary analysis “to include the interplay of visual, auditory, and interactive opportunities” offered by digital children’s literature. We welcome proposals that investigate digital picture books or children’s book Apps from dimensions that range from definition to creation, evaluation, criticism, usage, access, response, and impact.

(2) Border-Crossing in Children’s Literature
This is a broad area that encompasses multicultural, international, and translated children’s literature, in any format and genre, including but not limited to East Asian children’s literature, its relationship with global literature, its application in second language education, and East Asian-themed American works.

Submission Timelines

August 14, 2017 — Deadline for submitting abstracts of 300 words for 20-minute presentations (in English or Chinese) to https://goo.gl/forms/rMnzN6Ynkfr1X7f32

September 14, 2017 — Decision notification. The symposium is able to schedule up to 24 presenters into the program.

February 14, 2018 — Deadline for the submission of your paper. The necessity of on-site, simultaneous translation requires that we receive the full text of your presentation with adequate time to have English-Chinese bilingual versions prepared.

Following the symposium, we plan to assemble revised versions of the symposium papers into a book or a special journal issue.

Co-organizers

Dr. Minjie Chen
Cotsen Children’s Library
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
Princeton University Library
Phone: (609)258-9574
Email: minjiec@princeton.edu

Dr. Qiuying (Lydia) Wang
Professor, Reading/Literacy (K-8)
School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences
Oklahoma State University
Phone: (405)744-8001
Email: qiuying.wang@okstate.edu

Reference

Wolf, S. A. (2014). Children’s literature on the digital move. The Reading Teacher, 67(6), 413-417.

Printable Flyer