CFP – Postmodern Writing, Artistic Orientation and Literary Tradition: Studies on Tonke Dragt’s Children’s Books and Their Media Adaptations

Call for Papers

From 30 September to 2 October 2019, The University of Siegen organizes in cooperation with Tilburg University a conference on “Postmodern Writing, Artistic Orientation and Literary Tradition. Studies on Tonke Dragt’s Children’s Books and Their Media Adaptations.”

For more than 50 years Tonke Dragt has been one of the most popular children’s authors in the Netherlands. In Germany, her two best-known books Der Brief für den König (A Letter to the King) and Das Geheimnis des siebten Weges (The Song of Seven) have become bestsellers. Time and time again, these two together with some of her further children’s books have been adapted to other media, such as films, audiobooks, and games. At the moment, Netflix is planning to adapt A Letter to the King into a TV series. Dragt’s novels have also been adapted for educational purposes.

While Dragt’s novels enjoy a tremendous popularity, her work has been widely neglected in academia. Both intermedial and interdisciplinary approaches to her work as well as specific literary-theoretical and historical perspectives on Dragt’s oeuvre are still a rare occurrence in the academic landscape. This conference aims at changing this situation and wants to provide a good foundation for future research.

Together with authors such as Paul Biegel, Otfried Preuβler, Michael Ende, and James Krüss, Tonke Dragt belongs to a generation of children’s book authors who did not follow the 1970s trend of realistic, problem-oriented children’s literature. Instead, they created adventurous and fantastic worlds in their literary texts, which addressed fundamental existentialist questions. In the same vein as the above mentioned authors, Dragt gains her inspiration from folk- and fairy tales, as well as from classic world literatures. Riddled with well-known quotations and references from these literatures, Dragt’s stories invite young readers to go on a literary treasure hunt. This postmodern aspect of her work, reminiscent of Michael Ende’s books, also offers new perspectives on German literatures of this time period. Particularly interesting for children’s literature research are also both her illustrations and the collages she orchestrates of her own work as well as those of other authors.

Contributions in German, English or Dutch could address, but are not restricted to the following topics:

  • Biographical aspects
  • Tonke Dragt’s position in Dutch children’s literature
  • Genres in Dragt’s oeuvre
  • Analysis of Dragt’s books from critical perspectives such as ecocriticism, postcolonialism, comparative literature, narratology and translation studies
  • Interdisciplinary studies of Dragt’s illustrations of her own work and that of others
  • Media adaptations of Dragt’s work (film, television, audiobooks, games)
  • Adaptations of Dragt’s books for educational purposes
  • Dragt’s books in the discussion about the difference between popularity and canonicity

Abstracts (ca. 300 words) and a short academic biography should be sent before 30 November 2018 to the organizing committee: Dr. Jana Mikota, Siegen University, email: Mikota@germanistik.uni-siegen.de; Erik Dietrich, Siegen University, email: erik-dietrich@gmx.de; Prof.dr. Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer, Tilburg University, email: h.vanlierop@tilburguniversity.edu.

Travel expenses will be reimbursed provided that we get third-party funding for the conference. On the occasion of the author’s ninetieth birthday, we expect to publish a book with conference papers in the series Kinder- und Jugendliteratur intermedial (scheduled for 2020).