CFP – Didactics and the Modern Robinsonade for Young Adults

CFP: Didactics and the Modern Robinsonade for Young Adults
Edited Collection

The literary and historical influence of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe on the Western literary canon cannot be overstated. Its publication heralded the arrival of the novel form and engendered greater public interest in reading literature in the eighteenth century. It was Rousseau who said of Robinson Crusoe that it is “the one book that teaches all that books can teach.” Indeed, in his treatise Emilius and Sophia: or, A New System of Education, Rousseau advocated for the use of Defoe’s novel as an instructional tool for the education of young minds, wanting Emilius to read only Defoe during his formative years.

Encoded within Robinson Crusoe – and in other popular Robinsonade narratives that followed it – were specific ideological lessons concerning, among other things, masculinity, civility, and the roles young British men/adolescents were expected to fulfil as part of Britain’s imperial mandate. R.M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island, for example, as a boys’ adventure novel, inculcates within the young adult reader a sense of national duty and homosocial pride: it also provides the reader with an idea of those specific, practical skills that would be needed in order to survive on a desert island. The Robinsonade genre, then, is largely an instructional one, and one that provides the young adult reader with specific lessons (both implicit and explicit) about how to be – an adolescent, an adult, a dutiful patriot, et cetera.

Didactics and the Modern Robinsonade for Young Adults seeks to explore the inherent didacticism of the Robinsonade genre and to examine specifically the lessons that more modern and contemporary iterations of the Robinson Crusoe story have inculcated within young adult readers. Each chapter in the collection will focus on a different Robinsonade narrative, and, more specifically, on the instructional function of the island/islanded setting and the edification of the young adult protagonist(s) that occurs through his/her/their interactions with the topography/other inhabitants. While a great deal of work has already been carried out on Robinsonade narratives of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this collection will examine those works of Robinsonade fiction that were written after 1900, and which have received much less critical attention as a whole.

Contributors are invited to submit proposals for chapters of 6,000 words in length on any Robinsonade narrative for young adults/adolescents written after 1900 across a variety of media (literature, film, television etc.) and that specifically address issues of didactics and the instructional edification of young adults. The term “Robinsonade” may be interpreted broadly, and chapter topics may include (but are certainly not limited to):


  • M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud
  • J.M. Barrie’s The Admiral Crichton
  • H. DeVere Stacpoole’s The Blue Lagoon
  • Carol Ryrie Brink’s Baby Island
  • Captain W.E. Johns’ Biggles in the South Seas
  • William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Pincher Martin
  • Raykond Abrashkin and Jay Williams’ Danny Dunn on a Desert Island
  • Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Calder Willingham’s Providence Island
  • Charles Logan’s Shipwreck
  • William Steig’s Abel’s Island
  • Thomas Berger’s Robert Crews
  • Yann Martel’s Life of Pi
  • Terry Pratchett’s Nation

Other Media

  • Gilligan’s Island (TV Series)
  • Fantasy Island (TV Series)
  • Cast Away (Film)
  • Survivor (TV series)
  • Lost (TV series)
  • Flight 29 Down (TV series)
  • Lost in Blue (Video game)

Please send your proposals along with a short biography and a writing sample (of no more than 1,000 words) to