Analysing Music Videos (Julia Benner)

Music videos play an important role in youth cultures and are thus significant for youth media studies. Furthermore, they often refer to well-known children’s books and by doing so, they contribute to the continuing popularity of these stories. This workshop introduces music video analysis. We will focus on Gwen Stefani’s “What Are You Waiting For?”, while especially paying attention to depictions of age and intermediality.

Preparatory task for all students

Please read the text provided on the blackboard.

Watch the music video “What Are You Waiting For?” (extended explicit version) and pay attention to depictions and concepts of age and childhood. 

Try to think of other music videos with references to “Alice in Wonderland”. What are their main topics? Share titles and – if possible – links on the blackboard.

Doing Research in Children's Literature Studies with NVivo (Leander Duthoy)

​​​​​​​​

NVivo is a powerful piece of software developed with the aim of supporting researchers who conduct qualitative research. This workshop will offer a hands-on introduction of NVivo’s capabilities for beginning qualitative researchers and more experienced researchers interested in learning about the benefits NVivo might bring to your research.

The workshop will centre around the children’s literature author David Almond. Almond has participated in a number of interviews over the years in which he has outlined his view on children and (writing) children’s literature. These interviews are taken as our starting point for an exploratory exercise in using NVivo to conduct qualitative research.

In the first half of the workshop, participants will be introduced to what NVivo is, its general layout and key components, and learn how to get started with its basics. This includes uploading files, creating a coding tree and conducting the coding process. For the creation of the coding tree, we will start from participants’ preparatory tasks to develop a basic tree that incorporates some of the recurring ideas. In the second half, readers will be given 20 minutes to work individually on coding the interviews using their NVivo coding tree. This work will then form the basis for an exploration of NVivo’s array of query options and the use of cases to add information to coded material.

This workshop will be purposefully designed to be beginner-friendly and will start from the assumption that participants are completely new to the program.  

Required reading list

Five David Almond interviews which will be provided in word-format but also can be read online.

-        Guardian (2014)

-        January Magazine (2002)

-        Wordfactory (around 2012, no explicit date)

-        Breaking Character (2020)

-        Books For Keeps (2018)

Preparatory task for all students​

  1. Install NVivo on your personal device. Participants who register for the workshop will receive a link, product key and installation guide in advance of the workshop. Please contact me (leander.duthoy@uantwerpen.be) before the workshop if there are any issues installing NVivo. During the workshop, we will not spend time troubleshooting your device beyond the absolute basics.
  2. Read the provided interviews with David Almond. Based on these interviews, develop two or three relevant research questions regarding any topic discussed by Almond. Using those research questions, think of the relevant main and subtopics you would then need to identify in the interviews. To offer a random example, if you are interested in David Almond’s views on food, some topics could be: Time (Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch), Flavours (Savoury, Sweet, Salty), Food for special occasions (Thanksgiving turkey) …

During our workshop, we will process some of your suggestions into a “coding tree” that we can use in our exercises.  

Please send your research questions and key topics to leander.duthoy@uantwerpen.be one week before the workshop.

Assignment for students taking credits

This assignment is to be completed after the workshop. Create a new NVivo project aimed at exploring a research question you can answer using David Almond’s interviews. Within that project, use NVivo’s memo function to write a mini-paper (1000 words) in which you discuss your research question. Your NVivo project and paper must fulfil the requirements provided via Blackboard.


On the urge and difficulty to decolonize our way of reading (Elodie Malanda)

As researchers, especially researchers coming from literature, we have a clear idea of what “good children’s literature” is. ‘Well written,’ ‘beautifully illustrated’ or ‘not (too) didactic’ might be some criteria applying to a ‘good’ book for children or young adults in our understanding. What we sometimes forget is that the criteria to define those ‘quality children’s books’ are social and cultural constructions and that the norms of legitimate ‘quality’ and ‘taste’ are determined by a social elite. What we also sometimes forget is that our understanding of a ‘good children’s book’ depends on our understanding of the role(s) of children’s literature, of literature in general and that these also vary depending on the culture and the social class. So (how) can we decentralize our gaze and decolonize our reading? What are the specific difficulties of doing so, when we talk about children’s literature? And (why) is it important to decolonize our understanding of ‘quality’? 

Required reading list

Bourdieu, Pierre. "Introduction", Distinction. A Social Critique to the Judgement of Taste, Taylor and Frances Ltd, 1986. (Blackboard)

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o [1981] “The Language of African Fiction”, Decolonizing the mind: The Politics of Language in the African Novel, London, J. Currey, Nairobi, Heinemann Kenya, 1986.

Assignment for students taking credits

Find a book you loved in your childhood or teen years, but that you wouldn’t consider a ‘good’ book anymore. What do you think made you love it when you were little? What do you think of it today? Compare it to another book for the same age group that you love. Reflect on how your way of reading this book has changed and how/where you acquired the knowledge/taste/sensitivity/…  that makes you see the chosen book differently than when you first read it as a child. (500-1500 words). Please send it to elodie.malanda@gmail.com by 4 July 2022.

Ethnographies and Digital Ethnographies of Children’s/YA Readers and Bookish Communities (Melanie Ramdarshan Bold)

Ethnography is a qualitative research that involves the researcher immersing themselves in a particularly community or organisation. Data from that community and/or organisation can be collected through observations - of behaviours and interactions – and/or direct interactions with group in question. Ethnography is a flexible research method that enables the researcher to gain an in-depth understanding of a group’s shared culture, conventions, and social dynamics. However, it is a method that also has practical and ethical challenges, particularly when children and young people are involved.In this workshop, we will explore the uses of ethnography and digital ethnography for studying, in the first instance, contemporary readers and reading environments (children's and YA books). We can also extend this to the observations of consumers of children’s/YA media/culture. We will discuss the basics of how to design and conduct ethnographic fieldwork (online and in-person); critically, ethically, and knowledgeably assess information collected about readers/consumers of children’s/YA literature and/or media; and the ethical considerations of these research methods. As part of this workshop we will undertake our own fieldwork, observing readers/consumers of children’s/YA literature, in person, and children’s/YA books/media communities online.

Required reading list

Catherine Marshall and Gretchen Rossman, (2021). ‘Observation’, Designing Qualitative Research. 7th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Høyrup, Helene. 2017. “Towards a Connective Ethnography of Children's Literature and Digital Media: The New Media Encounter.” In More Words about Pictures: Current Research on Picture Books and Visual/Verbal Texts for Young People, Routledge, 2017

Preparatory task for all participants

<please see Blackboard for the pre-session tasks>

Assignment for student taking credits

Write a short 750 word report of the ethnographic and digital ethnography that you did for this exercise, based on your field notes, including an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of in-person and digital ethnographies for the communities you have chosen to observe. Field notes should include a description of where you were, when and how long you were there, who and what you saw, and how you evaluated the interactions you observed. In other words, how you know what you saw. Your positionally is essential to your observations, you should not speak as “a voice from no where” but rather have a clear presence in your writing.

Close and Distant Reading Bias in Illustrations of Children’s Books (Thomas Smits & Vanessa Joosen)

This workshop introduces readers to digital tools and methods for analyzing images in children’s literature. In particular, we consider how distant and close reading methods can complement each other when investigating bias in a historical collection of children’s books. The central concept that we work with in the workshop is that of family. For their preparatory tasks, participants first close read a set of 50 images and reflect on the concept of family. They try to identify and map biases related to gender, age, and ethnicity in the images. During the workshop, we first introduce two methods that rely on machine learning to study bias in a large collection of similar images. In the first method, researchers use Hasty.ai to manually annotate sensitive character attributes, hand-held objects and settings in a set of images. These annotations are used to train a model that can detect them in a large dataset and identify patterns of biased representation. A second method makes use of the recently introduced multimodal CLIP model. Trained on a large dataset of image/text combinations, CLIP can identify visual concepts in a large collection of images based on a textual query or prompt. In fact, the set of images that the students analyse for the preparatory task is produced by CLIP with the query: “an image of a family.” Together with the students, we assess the potential and limits of their own close reading analysis, the two digital methods that we have introduced, and the possible ways in which these methodologies can interact. In the final part of the workshop, we present the preliminary results of a larger research project in which we use digital tools to investigate bias in visuals from Dutch children’s literature (1800-1940). Students who are interested in using digital tools for their own research will also receive some practical guidance on how to get started.

Required reading list

Smits, Thomas & Vanessa Joosen. “Progress report: Distant viewing implicit bias in 38,000 image/-texts from 3,000 Dutch children’s books, 1800-1940” (PDF on Blackboard)

Underwood, Ted (2019). Preface: The Curve of the Literary Horizon. In Distant Horizons (pp. ix–xxii). University of Chicago Press. (PDF on Blackboard)

Preparatory task for all students

A month before the start of the summer school, participants receive a set of 50 images from the collection under investigation. The set is produced by CLIP with the query: “an image of a family.” First, we ask participants to consider whether they think that the images indeed represent a family for them. What criteria and visual clues do they use in making this decision? Second, we ask students to list potential biases that they identify in the images. They must pay special attention to character attributes (a.o. gender, age, ethnicity, social class, ability), settings, the positioning of characters and the objects and activities that the characters are associated with. All participants are asked to bring their notes to the workshop.

Assignment for students taking credits

Students taking credits have to write down their observations is a short essay of 500 to 600 words and send it before 1 July 2022 to vanessa.joosen@uantwerpen.be and thomas.smits@uantwerpen.be

Children's Literary Geographies (Björn Sundmark)

The workshop explores different ways in which literary geographies are produced and enacted visually (maps and illustrations) and verbally. Literary geography goes beyond factual (geographical) description of setting by also paying attention to how fictional places are invested with emotional and relational meaning. The affective relation­ships to people (peers, kin, strangers), flora and fauna, manmade things and features of nature and landscape are what makes places meaningful (whether real or imagined). The workshop will provide different examples of children’s literary geogra­phies: domestic playworlds, children’s realms, national literary geographies, travel literature, urban, nature/ wilderness, fantasy geographies. The experience of children’s literary geographies can in turn can inspire real world theme parks, literary walks, tourism – thus opening a “third space,” neither real or imagined – or both! The workshop opens with a display and discussion of the students’ own fictional maps and “geographical” reading experiences, moves on to spatially coded illustrations and verbal descriptions.   

Required reading list

Sundmark, Björn. “Dragons Be Here”: Teaching Children’s Literature and Creative Writing with the Help of Maps. Thinking through Children’s Literature in the Classroom. Eds. Agustin Agustín Reyes-Torres, Luis S. Villacañas-de-Castro and Betlem Soler-Pardo. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014. 64-78

One optional children’s book/picturebook with a map or with illustrations (alterntivel verbal description) that clearly convey a sense of setting/place/space.

Preparatory task for all students

Make a map according to the instructions in Sundmark’s article, and present it in the workshop. Be prepared to discuss the choices you have made and what kind of book/genre/story your map would be part of.

Bring sample slide from the book of your choice. Be prepared to say something about how the text produces a specific literary geography.

Assignment for students taking credits

Develop either of the two preparatory tasks into an essay (1000 words) which discusses the book’s literary geography. Deadline 9 July 2022. Submit to bjorn.sundmark@mau.se