CFP – Playing at the Boundaries: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Play in Children’s Literature, Media and Culture

PLAY2018: Playing at the Boundaries: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Play in Children’s Literature, Media and Culture
Cambridge University
Cambridge, UK, September 12-14, 2019

Confirmed Keynotes:

Marah Gubar – Associate Professor, MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Paul Ramchandani – LEGO Professor of Play in Education, Development and Learning, The University of Cambridge Faculty of Education

Metamorphosis and multiplicity have increasingly come to characterise the media landscape of the twenty-first century. Emerging technologies of production, distribution, and consumption not only allow texts to travel new and often unpredictable circuits, but also lower the thresholds of participation in cultural life, producing a new generation of “produsers” (Bruns 2008). In this environment, children’s literature, media and culture have gone mainstream, as stories overspill the edges of their texts and dissolve the boundaries that have conventionally separated different media forms and disciplines. At this juncture, we would like to invite scholars to join us in experimenting with the forms and shapes of our own discipline; to play, if you will.

The current cultural moment demands that scholars welcome approaches that are themselves nimble, dynamic, responsive and experimental, particularly from those of us who study childhood and its ephemera. Taking inspiration from play theorists such as Thomas Henricks, this conference proposes play as a metaphor through which to look anew at our field in this new era of border crossings. Play is not only action, but a mode of interaction and activity; a disposition, an experience and ultimately a context (Henricks ‘Theme and Variation’, 136). Such understandings of play open up new ways of thinking about the ways cultural products are engaged in everyday life – as a potential form of imaginative play, or an act through which texts becomes animated. Additionally, through their connotations of interaction and motion, they allow scholars to inhabit the intersections and overlaps between fields that are an increasingly common feature of the current cultural moment.

We therefore invite papers that explore the place of play in children’s literature, media and culture in experimental, transgressive, and creative ways. We encourage scholars from the fields of children’s literature, screen studies, games studies, media and communication, material culture and, of course, scholars studying play from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, to join us in considering the latent metacritical potentials of play and its diverse modes and forms in bridging disciplinary divides.

PSpecific topics include but are not limited to:

  • Text as plaything, playmate, playspace: the book as material object – as toy, as media, as technology, as haptic text etc.
  • Power Play: Play as criticism; the infantilisation of play; the role of play in demarcating high and low culture, adult and child culture, or traditional and experimental art
  • Play as aesthetic: What makes a text playful? What is the look and feel of a playful text?
  • History of Play: Play and material culture; evolution of play; cultural construction of play
  • Playing with texts: adaptation and transmediation in children’s literature, media and culture; the place of the child in relation to participatory cultures, fan studies etc.
  • Interplay: Analysing other media forms (comics, films, animation, comics, video games) from a children’s literature perspective; interdisciplinary approaches to the study of children’s literature media and culture and playing with theory
  • Performative Play: theater, animation, apps, games as playful forms; interactivity and embodiment in children’s media consumption
  • Play as subversion: play and agency; play and creativity
  • Wordplay: interpretation, meaning-making as form of creative play

Proposals of 250 words for a 20-minute paper should be sent, together with a 100-word bio, to playingattheboundaries@gmail.com by January 7, 2019. We also encourage panel and round table proposals, especially those that that seek to employ unconventional modes of presentation.

CFP – Being Human in Young Adult Literatures Symposium

CFP: Being Human in Young Adult Literatures Symposium
Friday 17th May 2019
University of Roehampton, London
National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL)

What does it mean to be human? Identity categories such as race, religion, gender, ability, size, and age intersect in definitions of the self, shaping how we construct ourselves and are perceived by others. Humanity is also under scrutiny, as other forms of consciousness help define what we are and what we are not. A growing corpus of young adult narratives across a range of genres and media attempt to engage with the plurality of the human experience.

The NCRCL’s symposium will consider how “being human” is explored through YA narratives, beginning with a keynote paper from renowned YA literature critic Dr. Alison Waller.

Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Sex and sexuality
  • Gender identity and/or expression
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Ability and/or disability
  • Mental health
  • A.I./cyborgs/post-human
  • Animal/human
  • Aging
  • Body image
  • Mortality and death
  • Genre and the construction of human experience
  • Performativity

This symposium invites papers from a range of disciplines addressing young adult narratives. It welcomes papers from postgraduate students, early career researchers, and academics.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words and a short bio should be sent to Emily Corbett at corbette@roehampton.ac.uk by 31 January 2019.