Congress Report: 22nd Biennial Congress in Worcester, United Kingdom

Creating Childhoods: Creation and (Re)-Interpretation through the Body, Histories and the Arts

8-12 August, 2015
Worcester, United Kingdom

2015 IRSCL Congress Logo

Convenor: Jean Webb

Committee Members: Prof Peter Hunt, Dr Rachel Johnson, Fateha Aziz, Branwen Bingle, Piet Grobler

Keynote Speakers: Professor Maria Nikolajeva, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Professor Derek Peters, University of Worcester, United Kingdom; Roger McGough, OBE; Dr. Julia Eccleshare; Dr Anto Thomas Chakramakkil, St Thomas's College, India; Dr. Nina Christensen, Aarhus University, Denmark; Professor Michelle Martin, University of South Carolina, USA

2015 - Program for Creating Childhoods, 22nd biennial congress in Worcester, United Kingdom

2015 - Program for Individual Papers at Creating Childhoods, 22nd biennial congress in Worcester, United Kingdom

2015 - Updated schedule for Individual Papers at Creating Childhoods, 22nd biennial congress in Worcester, United Kingdom

The Worcester Congress

2015 IRSCL Congress

Writers, artists, and academics variously create, interpret, and re-create notions of childhood. Within the academy, the field of children's literature is increasingly inter- and multi-disciplinary. The theme of this Congress, together with the associated sub-themes listed below, was intended to enable exploration, interrogation, and analysis of children's literature text(s) in the widest interpretation, and international childhoods. The conference was organized thematically, although we also encouraged cross-over papers that integrated more than one theme.

  • The (human) body, child health, and well-being
  • Creating childhoods through narrative, drama, poetry, illustration, film, and other media
  • The child in myth and folklore
  • The child in history and historical discourses

Sessions were also provided by artists and writers with international recognised reputations to integrate creativity into the congress experience.

Congress Venue

The 22nd IRSCL Congress was held at the St John's Campus of the University of Worcester, Worcester, UK. With a history dating back to 1946, Worcester has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, purposeful research. As the only higher education institution in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the University delivers degree programmes to nearly 10,000 students and employs 1,000 staff.

Worcester has undergone significant change and growth over the last few years, expanding into new subject areas, more than doubling student numbers and investing substantially in staff and new facilities.

  • 1946: Established as an Emergency Teacher Training College after WWII
  • 1970s: Degrees validated by the CNAA, under the title of Worcester College of Higher Education
  • 1992: Agreement concluded with Coventry University for the validation of the Institution's degree courses
  • 1995: Herefordshire and Worcestershire College of Nursing and Midwifery was absorbed into Worcester College of Higher Education
  • 1997: Institution gained and implemented degree-awarding powers from the Privy Council for all its taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses and, as a consequence, adopted the title of University College Worcester
  • 2005: UCW awarded full University status and adopts its new title: University of Worcester
  • 2010: HM Privy Council confers Research Degree Awarding Powers on the University. Research is a thriving and developing area at Worcester with many successful MPhil and PhD students studying a wide variety of subjects
  • 2010: Opening of new City Campus in a renovated former Infirmary, a nineteenth-century hospital, where the British Medical Association was founded. This first rate facility transformed a derelict landmark into an innovative centre of learning
  • 2012: Opening of The Hive, a joint venture between the University and Worcestershire County Council. This is an exceptional £60 million facility which has been recognised as outstanding by a considerable number of awards. It was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth accompanied HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
  • 2015: producing world-class research Worcester was recognised as the most improved University in the country by the UK Government's Research Excellence framework assessment exercise.

The congress was held on the St John's campus. First-class accommodation was available at the City Campus and the St John's Campus. The congress dinner was held at the University Arena, a multi-purpose sport's venue which is also dedicated to sport for the disabled.

An Illustration Exhibition was curated by Piet Grobler.

University of Worcester

University of Worcester, St. John's Campus

Worcester Arena

The University of Worcester Arena

Worcester Guild Hall

Worcester Guild Hall

Academic and Social Program

The conference aspired to achieve the aims stated above. We wanted to emphasise the relationship between creativity and children's literature and to encourage new research which demonstrated the new ways in which thinking and research are developing in the field. We also wanted to emphasise the internationality of the field and to provide a welcoming community at the Congress which was comprised of delegates from 44 countries.

I am confident to say we have met all our aims. The keynote lectures were excellent and each addressed the theme for the day. As an innovation Dr. Nina Christensen, Prof Michelle Martin and Dr. Anto Thomas Chakramakkil concluded their keynote session with a round table discussion emphasising the internationality of the field of study and broke the dominance of Anglo-American considerations. The papers given were of a very high standard and many presented cutting edge research. We have encouraged delegates to submit their work to the IRCL Journal.

Maria Nikolajeva key note

Maria Nikolajeva delivering key note

2015 IRSCL speakers and board members

2015 IRSCL Congress Key Note Speakers and Board Members

The team working on a day to day basis during the delivery of the Congress was comprised of twelve people: PhD students; academic staff; undergraduate students and the organising committee. They did an excellent job creating a helpful, supportive efficient and welcoming atmosphere. The Congress was also fully supported by the services at the University: the Accommodation Officers; Communications; Finance and the catering service, who also provided an excellent Congress dinner. My thanks to all of them for their efforts, willingness and good-natured approach - of course supported by regular provision of chocolate!

John Stephens IRSCL Fellow

John Stephens, 2015 IRSCL Fellow

The days were full and delegates enjoyed the summer atmosphere of the City of Worcester where within walking distance of the University accommodation there are excellent and affordable restaurants. In addition to the welcoming reception, accompanied by a jazz band, there was one evening social event which was an "Open-Mike Concert" held in the Pear Tree bar at the St John's campus. Michael Kerins and Sally Tonge started the evening with an hour of folk songs and storytelling--delegates then took over!! The true talent of IRSCL members came to the fore with blues and jazz guitar playing; folk songs and stories from around the world; accordion accompaniment and altogether a jolly time was had by all until midnight struck.

Prepared by Jean Webb