CFP – The Spatial Dynamics of Children’s Series Literature

Call for Papers: The Spatial Dynamics of Children’s Series Literature
Editors: Michael G. Cornelius, Marybeth Richards, and Courtney Gotham, Wilson College

“Geography,” Nedra Reynolds asserts, “fixes identities” (149). That is to say, where we come from—and where we are, literally, spatially, environmentally, figuratively—has a huge impact on who we are. Of course, theories of space and place also hold that the converse is equally true—that we have an impact on those spaces and places we inhabit and/or dwell within. We make space: our agencies, our cultures, our beliefs and values and understandings shape the macro- and micro-environments around us. And yet, just as much, those places we inhabit shape us, causing us to adapt ourselves to them, causing us to learn how to fit—to fit in, to fit out, to fit up—or, just as relevant, how to simply exist within the spaces we daily inhabit.

This collection seeks to interrogate the nature of space and place within children’s series literature. It specifically seeks to interrogate the spatial dynamics of children’s series literature in both series books and books in a series. Scholars of children’s literature make important generic, structural, and cultural distinctions between books in a series and series books. Books in a series—such as the Little House books or The Hunger Games trilogy—often function as extended bildungsroman, books that explore the growth and maturation of their central character or characters. These books are hallmarked by change: not only do the dynamic character(s) at the heart of the story demonstrate corporeal and psychological development, but the other components of the books themselves demonstrate a sense of cultural, political, or social maturity. Series books, however, are dominated by static natures. The central character—usually a flat, unchanging trope more than a fully realized, fleshed out, dynamic figure—is a static creation. Often, these characters do not even age, let alone change. Typified by series like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, these books act as truly distinct counterparts to their books in a series kin.

The central characters in books in a series often have powerful relationships to the spaces that define them: Laura Ingalls in her Little House; Katniss Everdeen and the Capital; Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Changes in space are often indicative of powerful transformations within the protagonist figures as well. Series books are in some way opposite to this; though characters like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys frequently move through different geographies, they almost never change as characters, not really. And yet one could argue that the only dynamic that ever experiences any alteration in a series like Nancy Drew is setting. Nancy travels the world; inhabits rural, suburban, and urban space; visits regional and contested space; some series characters even inhabit outer spaces or underwater realms, if only for a time. Surely there is something significant about the relationship of series books to those spaces their protagonists inhabit?

The editors of this collection seek essays that explore the spatial dynamics found within children’s series literature, whether books in a series or series books (or those series that are not easy to define as one or the other). Essays should focus primarily on one series, though others can be brought in as a point of referent. The ideas contained in this call for papers are meant to be jumping off points for your own essays; we are open to a wide range of papers exploring the subject at hand.

All essays should be between 5000-7000 words. Abstracts are due 1 September 2019. Deadline for essays is 31 January 2020. Contact the chief editor, Michael Cornelius (mcornelius@wilson.edu), with any questions you may have concerning the project.

Email abstracts and questions to Michael: mcornelius@wilson.edu.

CFP – Edited Collection on Plants in Children’s and YA Literature

Call for Papers
Edited Collection on Plants in Children’s and YA Literature
Editors: Melanie Duckworth and Lykke Guanio-Uluru

From the forests of the tales of the Brothers’ Grimm to Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree, from Piglet’s house in Winnie the Pooh to the treehouse in Andy Griffith and Terry Denton’s popular 13 Story Treehouse series, trees have been enduring features of stories for children. Trees act as gateways to other worlds, as liminal spaces, as markers of permanence and change, and as metonyms of childhood itself. The joy of “climbing a tree” is a familiar trope of childhood. Plants more generally also crowd the pages, forming both the vibrant jungle in Where the Wild Things Are, and the clothes and dwellings of Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies and May Gibbs’s gumnut babies. They sometimes wear a more sinister aspect, as in John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, J. K. Rowling’s Whomping Willow, and Tolkien’s Old Forest in The Hobbit. When Emmi Itäranta imagines Northern Finland in a future marked by climate change in Memory of Water, plants are the only available source of food. And where would Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight vampires hide and hunt if not in the forest?

In the field of the Environmental Humanities, an increased fascination with plants is apparent, as can be seen in works such as Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire (2001), Jeffrey T. Nealon’s Plant Theory: Biopower and Vegetable Life (2015), Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder’s Through Vegetal Being (2016), and in Donna Haraway’s focus on “humusities” in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016). Plants are also rearing their heads in science and popular science books such as Stefano Manusco and Alessandra Viola’s Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence (2015) and Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees (2015), which both claim that plants have sophisticated ways of communicating with each other. As Ursula K. le Guin put it in Late in the Day: “Descartes and the behaviorists willfully saw dogs as machines, without feeling. Is seeing plants as without feeling a similar arrogance? One way to stop seeing trees, or rivers, or hills, only as ‘natural resources,’ is to class them as fellow beings — kinfolk” (2015). This is precisely the approach taken by Matthew Hall in Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany (2011). Children’s literature is in a unique position to explore representations of plants as kin, as homes, as ways of being.

While plants have been included as aspects of previous forays into ecocritism and children’s literature, we believe a sustained, comparative approach to this topic is timely. How do plants in children’s literature present images of vegetal agency, heritage and futurity? What might a plant-centric approach to children’s literature have to offer the broader field of plant studies? How do the plants entwined through children’s and young adult literature support or destabilize traditional readings? We are calling for international and historically diverse approaches which might consider topics such as:

  • Plants and posthumanism in children’s literature
  • Norse myth and the world tree in children’s literature
  • Moral, didactic and religious plants
  • The forest and the fairytale
  • Plants in children’s poetry or non-fiction
  • The treehouse in children’s literature
  • Plants in urban settings
  • Magical plants
  • Plants in children’s literature from indigenous cultures
  • Plants and national identity in children’s literature
  • Plants in YA fantasy, science fiction and climate fiction

This collection is intended for publication with a major academic publisher in the US or Europe.

Deadlines:

  • Submission deadline for abstracts (max 350 words), accompanied by a brief biographical statement: September 30, 2019
  • Authors notified of preliminary acceptance: October 30, 2019
  • Publisher identified and preliminary contract finalized: December 2019
  • Submission deadline for chapters (about 5000 to 6000 words, max. word length and documentation style pending publisher’s requirements): April 30, 2020

Please send abstracts and any questions to:
Melanie Duckworth: Melanie.duckworth@hiof.no
Lykke Guanio-Uluru: hagl@hvl.no

CFP – Fantasy and Myth in the Anthropocene

Call for papers for edited collection
Fantasy and Myth in the Anthropocene
Brian Attebery, Tereza Dědinová and Marek Oziewicz (Eds.)

“Fantasy’s main claim to cultural importance resides, I believe, in the work of redefining the relationship between contemporary readers and mythic texts. … [If we take] myth … to designate any collective story that encapsulates a world view and authorizes belief, … fantasy offers a glimpse into the process by which mythic patterns transmit cognitive structures even without the sanction of official belief. … Fantasy’s enduring appeal is [its] capacity for mythopoiesis: the making of narratives that reshape the world.”
(Brian Attebery, Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth)

“The Anthropocene is a belief that humanity has already changed the living world beyond repair … [and that] the destiny of the planet is to be completely overtaken and ruled by humanity. … Like most mistaken philosophies, the Anthropocene worldview is largely a product of well-intentioned ignorance.”
(Edward O. Wilson, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life)

In October 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report stating that unless “unprecedented,” “rapid and far-reaching” changes are made, our planet will find itself spiraling into irreversible and catastrophic climate change. Technological and political challenges aside, the reversal of the current ecocidal trajectory requires a radical transformation of how we imagine ourselves in relation to the biosphere. One key space where this work of collective dreaming occurs is myth, fantasy and other genres of speculative fiction. Fantasy and myth have been used to explore the notions of heroism, identity, and power; raise questions about the meaning and purpose of life; express social criticism and speculate about the unseen. But what do these questions mean at a time when human activity has altered the planet in game-changing ways?

The aim of this collection is to explore the new challenges and opportunities for fantasy and myth that arose out of highly contested debates over climate change, pollution, vanishing habitats, extinctions, mass pauperization and migrations, and other effects of the Anthropocene. What does fantastic literature have to say about the human-caused changes of the Anthropocene? Do myths about a lost Eden justify the destruction of habitats and species or do they encourage us to change the way we live? What makes fantasy and myth relevant in the Anthropocene? How exactly can they function as vehicles for hopeful dreaming that steers clear of naïvete and helps us imagine alternatives to the Capitalocene’s vision of petrochemical Ragnarok? Can myth and fantasy point a way to restoring the connection with the natural rather than the supernatural? Can they articulate a vision of non-anthropocentric life, in which humans are part of rather than rulers of the biosphere?

Fantasy and Myth in the Anthropocene seeks original contributions dealing with any sort of interaction between fantastic or mythopoeic fictions and the realities of climate change, megacities, the carbon economy and the other alterations we have made to the environment. While we recognize the contribution of dystopia and science fiction to this debate, this collection aims to offer a sustained reflection upon the nexus of fantasy, myth, and the Anthropocene. We encourage contributors to draw upon a range of theoretical approaches and cultural positions: Indigenous futurism, Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene, solarpunk, energy humanities, human-animal studies, posthumanism, ecocriticism, evocriticism, and whatever else offers insight into the present age and the stories we tell about it. We welcome proposals that examine graphic novels, picturebooks, short stories, novels, films, narrative games and apps, and other mixed-media formats. We are particularly interested in contributions that engage with works for the young audiences, Indigenous futures, minority and postcolonial fantasy, recent and under-discussed works, including international and global narratives, and works originally published in languages other than English—as well as how these diverse works stimulate conversations about the Anthropocene with young people. We seek chapters on how exactly myth and fantasy accept, ignore, or interrogate the Anthropocene’s key issues and assumptions. Whose visions of change do they articulate or exclude? Ultimately, can fantasy and myth help us rethink what it means to be human at the time Amitav Gosh has dubbed “The Great Derangement”?

This collection is intended for publication with a major academic publisher in the US or Europe.

Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for abstracts (max 350 words, incl. title and 5 keywords), accompanied by the author’s CV: August 31, 2019
  • Authors notified of preliminary acceptance: September 30, 2019
  • Publisher identified and preliminary contract finalized: fall 2019
  • Submission deadline for chapters (about 5000 to 6000 words, max. word length and documentation style pending publisher’s requirements): June 15, 2020
  • Peer review completed. Revision suggestions sent to authors: September 30, 2020
  • Revised chapter drafts submitted for final editorial review: November 15, 2020
  • Final manuscript submitted for copy-editing by the publisher: early spring 2021

For info and updates about the collection, see the project’s website.

If you have any questions, please contact the co-editors at fmapublication@gmail.com.