Members of the IRSCL Board held their 2008 meeting in India, in conjunction with an International Symposium, ‘Bind us Together: Global Perspectives on Multicultural Children’s Literature’ held by the Children’s Literature Association of India (CLAI) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, September 8-10, 2008. Scholars from all over India and from Iran attended this symposium, which was ably organised by Hyacinth Pink of Nirmala College for Women. The festival season was in full swing while we were in Coimbatore, and below the symposium poster you can see a floral ‘welcome’ carpet.
Research and teaching in children’s literature are growing rapidly in universities and colleges throughout India, where courses are gradually being introduced and increasing numbers of undergraduate and postgraduate students show a keen interest in studying children’s literature. Board members thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Indian children’s literature and about the scholarly projects of their Indian colleagues. The symposium ‘Bind us together’ incorporated around 45 papers in addition to plenary presentations and a lively session on courses and teaching strategies. Here is a photograph of the audience at the Inaugural Ceremony of the symposium.
On the first night of the symposium we were invited to a cultural programme at Nirmala College, where we were enchanted by displays of dancing reflecting various cultural traditions. In the photograph below you can see (l to r) Hans-Heino Ewers (IRSCL Vice-President), Professor Alida Allison (San Diego State University), me (Clare Bradford, IRSCL President) and Helene Ehriander (IRSCL Board member) wearing the beautiful garlands we were given.
Here you can see a small sample of the dancing we enjoyed, performed by the gifted students of Nirmala College for Women.
IRSCL member Anto Thomas assisted Hyacinth in hosting our visit. Below is Anto with Hans-Heino Ewers:
More photographs of IRSCL Board members with Indian colleagues:
After the symposium Anto and the Board took the train to Cochin in Kerala, where we held further Board meetings, completing our work on September 11. The national newspaper The Hindu published two articles during our stay in Coimbatore, one on the symposium and the other on the importance of children’s literature for child readers and as an area of research.
After we completed our meetings I travelled with Anto Thomas to five cities (Trichur, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi), in a lecture programme funded by the Australia-India Council. Everywhere I went I met enthusiastic scholars and students eager to engage in discussions of children’s literature.
Hans-Heino Ewers, convenor of the 19th Biennial IRSCL Congress in Frankfurt, August 2009, reported to the Board on plans for this Congress, at which we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of IRSCL. Hans-Heino and his Conference Committee are well advanced in their preparation, and delegates are assured of a warm welcome to Frankfurt. Please visit the Congress website for information about this important IRSCL event.