CFP – The Life of the Child’s Mind: Education and Intellect in Contemporary Literature for Young People

The Life of the Child’s Mind: Education and Intellect in Contemporary Literature for Young People
(Proposed session for MLA 2017, sponsored by Children’s Literature Association)

This panel will consider the status of the intellectual life of the child in modern and contemporary literature for young people. Just as American culture is often characterized as anti-intellectual, as if the democratization of education entailed a turn away from the life of the mind, literature for the young is sometimes summed up as empty-headed. Even the school story—a genre named for the central role it gives to school experience—is notorious for its lack of interest in academic pursuits. Hence the need to consider those rarer narratives that give expression to the intellectual lives of the young.

Questions to address might include, but are not limited to:

  • How does formal education inform character development in modern and contemporary literature for young people?
  • In what ways are the achievements of young protagonists dependent on learning experiences peculiar to specific types of school or schooling?
  • How are children figured as readers enriched by acts of reading and responding to texts?
  • In what ways are children imagined as builders of knowledge vital to culture, society, or nature?
  • To what extent is childish learning and growth deemed fit for responding to a world in crisis?

500-word abstracts by 1 March 2016 to David Aitchison (david.c.aitchison@gmail.com).

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