Fairy Tales, Palimpsests, and Media (Michelle Anya Anjirbag)

This lecture will explore ways of approaching media adaptations by examining how fairy tales demonstrate the concept of the palimpsest, and how media adaptations magnify their palimpsestic quality. Examples spanning popular culture and media will show how we can reconsider our ideas of what a fairy tale is, and who occupies fairy tale space. In doing so, we will reconsider concepts such as classics, canon, and “original” to better understand intersections of both culture and time as these stories continue to be reiterated in media. We will start with a grounding in the history of the European fairy tale, how it became considered “for children”, and then move forward into contemporary adaptation spaces. In doing so, this lecture reconsiders what a fairy tale is, and who and what it might be for.

Authorship and Starauthorship in the Field of Children's and Young Adult Literature (Lena Hoffmann)

The concept of authorship is one of the main research fields within literary studies and one that has changed over the years and therefore changed our understanding of literature. Authors of children’s and young adult literature see themselves confronted with a variety of specific challenges, adult gatekeepers expect from them not only literary but also pedagogical expertise. This means that Roland Barthes’ proclamation of “the death of the author” cannot be equally transferred to our dealing with literary texts for young people. The lecture will outline key characteristics of authorship within the field of children’s and young adult literature and will try to retrace a tradition of discursive disregard for authors of texts for a young audience. While this tradition still seems to be kept alive within literary criticism, the public attention for children’s and young adult literature changes. Nowadays authorship within this literary field can mean star-authorship, as authors like Joanne Rowling, Cornelia Funke or John Green demonstrate.

Activist Black Children's Literature in France and Germany: Changing the Literary Field from the Margins (Elodie Malanda)

Children’s and YA literature by Black French and Black German authors is a largely marginalized literature. Not only is Afrofrench and Afrogerman children’s literature relatively new on the book market, a large part of the recent books published by Black French and Black German authors are also self-published. Many of those authors openly identify as activists and consider their writing as a form of action to empower Black children or to change the book market and/or society. Often underpinned with explicit didacticism, this activist approach isn’t always welcomed by the mainstream French and German book market. But, in spite of its marginality Black French and Black German children’s and YA literature has a growing impact, inside and outside the Black communities. In this lecture, I will show how the Black communities organize to make this literature thrive and how their work starts to impact the mainstream publishing world.

No Pets, No Drunks, No Children: What Tipsy Animated Animals Teach About Alcohol (Elizabeth Marshall)

From Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat to Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks’ early versions of Mickey Mouse to Warner Bros.’ Drunk Stork to Steven Spielberg’s Tiny Toons, tipsy animated animals are a familiar trope in children’s media. This lecture places animated shorts produced in the U.S. from the 1920s to the 1990s within a broader drinking curriculum to think about how these texts instruct viewers in socially acceptable forms of drunken comportment. Drunken animated animals index social anxieties about both alcohol and childhood, allowing a mediated outlet for fears about the ungovernable child as well as unruly “Others.”

Placemaking in Children's Picture Books (Jennifer Miskec)

According to human geographer Tim Cresswell, what makes a physical space more than just “fixed objective coordinates on the Earth’s surface” is human interaction (7). “To think of an area of the world as a rich and complicated interplay of people and the environment,” Cresswell posits, “is to free us from thinking of it as facts and figures” (11). Space (location, locale, landscape, setting) becomes place when “people are attached to it in one way or another” (7). Whereas illustrations of generic spaces and landscapes can be enjoyed superficially, place invites an emotional engagement from readers. Using place studies as the critical framework, we will discuss the ways in which some authors and illustrators do more than just create setting, they create a sense of place.

Women of Colour in UKYA: Subverting Stereotypes and Expanding Identities (Melanie Ramdarshan Bold)

This lecture will explore the capacity of young adult fiction to challenge the (historically negative) perceptions of women of colour in the British media and society through counterstorytelling. Case studies of two UKYA novels, written by British women of colour, were undertaken to examine the multiplicity of experiences that informed the authors’ depictions of young, British women of colour. The two UKYA novels chosen for the case studies are Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence and All The Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with the two UKYA authors and close readings of the books. The multiple case study approach was chosen to explore issues of representation in-depth, whilst also giving opportunity for cross-case analysis. The cases offer insights into: how the identity development of British adolescents of colour is represented in youth literature; How women of colour have adapted traditional YA templates to reflect the experiences of Black and Brown girlhood; and how age intersects with gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexuality, mental health, and location. The epistemology, for this research, is rooted in feminist, postcolonial, and critical race theories, which complement the focus on the gendered and racialised identities of the protagonists and authors.

Child Autonomy and Child Governance in Children's Literature: Where Children Rule (Björn Sundmark)

The lecture explores representations of child autonomy and self-governance in children’s literature and showcases how the idea of child rule and child realms is central to children’s literature. Indeed, as will be demonstrated, childhood is frequently represented as a state of being, with children seen as aliens in need of passports to Adultland (and vice versa). In a sense all children’s literature, of course, depends on the idea that children are different, separate, and in command of their own imaginative spaces and places. The lecture unpacks the metaphor of a childhood nation and dis­cusses texts that exemplify the authority and/or power of children. It is shown that child gover­nance and autonomy can be seen as either natural or perverse, and that it can be displayed as a threat or as a promise. Indeed, the representations of self-ruling children are manifold and ambivalent and range from the idyllic to the nightmarish. Accordingly, the "child rule"-motif can be seen in Robinsonades and horror films, in philo­sophical treatises and in series fiction.

From Little Red Rag to A Sea Full of Love: seven picturebooks off the beaten path (Pieter Gaudesaboos)

Illustrator, author and designer Pieter Gaudesaboos has won several awards. During this lecture he will guide you through his oeuvre, in which each picture book is completely different, yet instantly recognisable as a ‘Gaudesaboos’. His books are playful, original, and contain innumerable amusing details. He works with collage and mixed media, combining photography, digital illustration and watercolor. 

With the support of

Flanders Literature