CFP – Linking Childhood and Old Age

International workshop organized by the Platform for a Cultural History of Children’s Media (PLACIM)

Dates: 21-22 May 2015
Location: University of Antwerp, Department of Literature and Linguistics, Belgium

The romantic pairing of childhood and old age is a trope that has appeared in various media and genres in Western culture. In positive terms, children and the elderly are suggested to be ideal companions because both groups are exempt from paid labour and thus have the time to indulge in play, storytelling, gardening, tending to animals, and so forth. The time they spend together is cast as a kind of intergenerational bonding that enriches both age groups. The children find in elderly relatives or friends patient companions who grant them the attention and understanding that their parents sometimes fail to provide, and vice versa, the children keep the elderly vital, bring them joy and prevent them from feeling useless and lonely. The perceived abundance of leisure time means that children and adults are the objects and targets of marketing campaigns that exploit the ideal intergenerational bonding in order to sell them toys, books, tickets to theme parks, and so forth. In more negative terms, children and the elderly are constructed as physically and economically vulnerable groups that can be governed and patronized by the generation in between. In this discourse the two groups are characterized by lack – of power, social status, intellectual capacities, physical ability, and so forth. Contemporary age studies critics argue, moreover, that the alliance between the old and the young is an ageist stereotype, through which the child’s weaknesses are projected onto the old and the elderly’s age, experience and adult status are denied. Metaphors like “one’s second childhood” – a euphemism for dementia – are thus considered ageist.

PLACIM is the international Platform for a Cultural History of Children’s Media, funded by the Dutch Research Council NWO (see In the fourth PLACIM workshop, we treat the idea that “children are like old people, and vice versa” as a basic conceptual metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) to investigate the intermedial and international mobility of this childhood trope. We compare its appearances across media (picture books, children’s novels, comic strips, motion pictures, radio plays, TV series, digital games, images, children’s own visual production) in North-West Europe, the United States and Asia in particular. Building on media convergence theory, we argue that different media do not operate in isolation from each other (Thorburn & Jenkins, 2003) and that the circulation of images between media assumes the shape of repetition-with-a-difference. This process of renewal and adaptation also occurs when cultural products travel transnationally and are “glocalized” (Robertson, 1995; Kjeldgaard & Askgaard, 2006). “Glocalization” suggests an interactive local-global dynamic when cultural products are exchanged between cultures, which in the case of children’s media productions, affects the basic tropes of childhood. We want to investigate how the basic conceptual metaphor that links childhood and old age changes when it becomes the subject of adaptation and glocalisation processes between Eastern and Western cultures, especially in the light of the different family values and attitudes towards childhood and old age in these cultures.

We invite papers on the following topics:

  • Metaphor theory: how universal/culturally specific/linguistically specific are basic conceptual metaphors, and how easily can they be transferred from one culture or medium to another? How are metaphors glocalized when they travel between Western and Eastern cultures?
  • Age studies: the presence of the link between childhood and old age in various media and discursive practices (cultural products, marketing, politics, gerontology)
  • Asian studies: intergenerational bonding (or lack of) in Asian culture, in particular Japan and Taiwan
  • The cultural history of childhood and childhood studies: how exactly is the bonding of childhood and old age cast in children’s media in different historical periods? We invite detailed case studies that trace the evolution of this trope, both in Eastern and Western cultures.
  • Adaptation and glocalization of children’s media: how is the connection between childhood and old age transformed in children’s media and its international adaptations? We invite detailed case studies that trace the adaptation and glocalisation of children’s media products as they travel between Eastern and Western cultures.
  • Children’s consumer culture: How is the link between childhood and old age performed in marketing and advertising of commodities, in consumer activities, and the organization of consumer culture?
  • Reception studies, including ethnographic and sociological inquiries into the users of today’s media: how they do perceive of the bonding of childhood and old age? We welcome field work, interviews, and studies of the reviews of children’s media products.

If you are interested in participating, please send a 300 word abstract and a 300 word CV to: and, before 15 January 2015. Please relate your problem statement explicitly to one (or more) of the six topics delineated above. We work with pre-circulated papers, as we aim to publish an intellectually rigorous volume of essays as a result of this workshop. You will receive notice of acceptance before 15 February 2015. Deadline for the first version of your workshop paper: 15 April 2015.


Kjeldgaard, D. and S. Askegaard, 2006. “The Glocalization of Youth Culture: The Global Youth Segment as Structures of Common Difference.” Journal of Consumer Research 33.2, 231-247.

Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson, 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Chicago UP.

Robertson, R., 1995. “’Glocalization’: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity.” In: M. Featherstone et al., eds. Global Modernities. London: Sage, 25-45.

Thorburn, D. and H. Jenkins, 2003. “Introduction: Towards an Aesthetics of Transition.” In: D. Thorburn and H. Jenkins, eds. Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1-19.

Call for Nominations for 2015 IRSCL Book Award

As you all know, our 2015 Congress will be in Worcester, Great Britain, in August 2015. The Congress 2015 website is up and can be accessed through the Conferences page of the IRSCL website, at

We want to remind you to nominate books for consideration for the IRSCL Book Award. Books considered for the 2015 award must have been published during the period 2013-2014, must not have been nominated for an earlier IRSCL competition, and must deal with research on children’s literature or other forms of cultural texts for young people. Please note that books with a publication date of 2015 can be nominated first for the 2017 award. Authors can nominate their own books, or IRSCL members can nominate books by other members, as long as those nominating books and the authors of nominated books are IRSCL members whose membership is up to date.

In 2015, we have introduced a new category of competition for edited volumes. In other words, we will award up to two Book Awards in any competition, one for monographs and one for edited volumes.

Please email nominations to Astrid Surmatz before January 15, 2015, along with two hard copies of the book or confirmation that you have arranged for publishers to send nominated books directly to her. If the book has also been published electronically and is available through open access, please include the link in your nomination. Astrid’s contact details are as follows:

Astrid Surmatz
University of Amsterdam
Spuistraat 134
NL-1012 VB Amsterdam

CFP – Maps and Mapping in Children’s Literature

Literature for children and young adults is a rich source of material for the study of literary maps, one that has been largely overlooked, despite the growth in academic interest in this area of study. We are therefore seeking contributions for a proposed collection on maps in children’s literature that will bring together the best current thinking on the topic, which will become a resource for scholars, and provide a springboard for further study in this area, particularly in terms of interdisciplinary and international discourses.

Possible areas for consideration include, but are not limited to:

  • The interplay of literary maps and texts
  • The historical and aesthetic development of maps and mapping in children’s literature
  • The impact of genre and form on maps (for example in works of fantasy and picturebooks)
  • The cultural, ideological, pedagogical, metaphorical, cognitive, narrative and imaginative function of maps in children’s literature
  • Differences in form and function between literary maps in children’s literature and those found in adult literature
  • The shifting iconography of literary maps
  • Issues of representation in maps and mapping
  • The use of maps in works of non-fiction for children
  • The role of maps and mapping in constructions of children’s spatial, personal (including gendered), regional, international and global identities
  • The poetics and politics of maps and mapping in writing for children

Contributions might cover a range of maps from different sources or times, or focus on maps in a single series. We are particularly keen to enlarge the discussion beyond English language texts and maps, and so we welcome contributions that discuss literary maps and mapping in children’s books from non-Anglophone countries.

Please send a 250-300 word abstract as a Word attachment outlining your proposed content, brief biographical information, and a preliminary bibliography to both editors: Dr. Hazel Sheeky Bird at and Dr. Anthony Pavlik at E-mails should have the subject line “literary maps”. Questions regarding proposals can also be directed to the editors prior to submission and abstracts should be sent no later than November 21, 2014.

Full articles of no more than 6,000 words will be required no later than September 25, 2015. Acceptance of abstracts will not guarantee inclusion in the final collection. All contributions will be peer reviewed, and responsibility for obtaining copyright permissions lies with the contributor.