CFP – Too Cute to Kill: From the Depiction of Animals in Children’s Literature to the Framing of Government Policy by Adults

Too Cute to Kill? From the Depiction of Animals in Children’s Literature to the Framing of Government Policy by Adults
A two-day workshop at the University of Surrey
21 and 22 July 2016

Confirmed speakers
Alick Simmons, Former Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer for England
Dr Francine Dolins, Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Dr Amy Ratelle, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Professor Wyn Grant, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick
Caroline Spence, Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology, Queen Mary University of London
Holly Webb, Best-selling children’s author and former children’s book editor at Scholastic

In collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Surrey, the organising committee are pleased to announce a call for papers for this two-day workshop to be held in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey.

Attitudes, behaviours and choices impact all arenas of environmental, public and veterinary health. In particular, the cultural and emotional value accorded to certain animal species makes disease control and policy development complex. This international and interdisciplinary workshop will explore the depictions of wild and domestic animals in children’s literature and how these shape the value accorded to animals and their environment into adulthood. We seek a better understanding of how the cultural and emotional values accorded to certain animal species contribute to the complexity of policy development and implementation by government and impact environmental, public and veterinary health.

In particular, we hope to explore the particular association with young children and animals/nature in their literature and culture, and explore how sentimental and symbolic associations might contribute to the valuing of animals by adults in a way that can create tensions in the discussion, formation, and implementation of environmental, public and veterinary health initiatives.

This workshop will be of interest to academics and professionals in the following fields:

  • Those interested in policy development and stakeholder engagement
  • Policy developers
  • Behavioural psychologists
  • Ecocritics
  • Researchers and editors of children’s literature
  • Vets
  • Ecologists
  • Ethicists
  • Infectious disease researchers

We invite proposals of up to 200 words for presentations (15-20 minutes) and for posters. We particularly seek approaches that are multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or open to working with other disciplines, with an interest in exploring the concept and origin of how animal species are framed and the impact this has on policy development. Possible topics include:

  • The representation of animals in children’s literature and other cultural forms, in and across children’s literature in different cultures and languages
  • The shaping and maintaining of human attitudes to animals, in terms of culture, behaviour and social interactions
  • The relationship between the representation of animals in culture and in the media and policy development
  • The issues and challenges of engaging the public and other stakeholders in policies involving animals

Proposals are to be emailed to by 31 March 2016.

For further information, see:

CFP – Queer at Camp

Call for chapter proposals
Queer at Camp
Kenneth Kidd and Derritt Mason, Eds.

The American Camp Association reports some 12,000 summer camps in the United States alone, and there are nearly a thousand more in Canada. While especially popular in North America, summer camp is a global affair. Certain iterations of summer camp loom large in the popular imagination – Scout Camp, band camp, bible camp – but camps engage a staggeringly diverse range of interests and activities, from sports to language learning, computing, forensic science, weight loss, and so forth. Some camps are specialized; some have a general education and/or elective curricular structure. Although we tend to imagine young people as camp’s primary attendees, camp seems to increasingly provide a space for adult play and nostalgia: see, for example, the emergence of “Camp No Counselors” in upstate New York; Netflix’s recent resurrection of the summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer; and “Camp Camp,” Maine’s camp for LGBT adults.

For an edited book volume, we seek analyses of camp as a queer time and/or place. We mean summer camp primarily but not narrowly; the temporalities and iterations of camp are many. Camp is a powerful site of bonding, romance, and/or sex, of heightened or marked relations of gender and/or sexuality. Homophobia has marked traditional forms of camping, especially those for boys, even as there are now camps for queer youth, such as Camp Aranu’tiq, founded to serve transgender youth. What role does camp play in development, learning, and desire? How does it shape our understandings of childhood, adulthood, and their relationship to one another? Is camp utopian or dystopian, a parallel or alternative universe? Does it intersect with Camp as Sontag and others have articulated such? How and where is camp represented in popular culture? What are camp’s engagements with the indigenous, the native, the local? With the national or global? How does camping – organized, disorganized, somewhere in between – encourage or enable queerish desires and identities? What forms of sociality or kinship does camp permit? How does affect circulate in and around camp? How might queer theory speak to this complex phenomenon?

Submissions should be interrogative but format is open. We welcome scholarship, photo essays, critical memoir, and creative work. 350-500 word chapter proposals (or the equivalent) are due to both editors by April 15, 2016. Proposals should be for original works not previously published (including in conference proceedings) and not currently under consideration for another published volume. If the essay is accepted for the collection, a full draft (5000-7000 words) will be required by October 1, 2016. Editors are happy to discuss ideas prior to the deadline.

Proposals should be submitted to:

Kenneth Kidd:
Derritt Mason:

CFP – “I Die Daily”: Police Brutality, Black Bodies, and the Force of Children’s Literature

Call for Papers
“I Die Daily”: Police Brutality, Black Bodies, and the Force of Children’s Literature
Guaranteed 2017 MLA session sponsored by the Children’s Literature Association

On August 9, 2014, Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. Brown’s bullet-ravaged body lay prone for more than four hours. In Ferguson Committeewoman Patricia Bynes’s estimation, this prolonged spectacle contributed to the building outrage among witnesses. “It was very disrespectful to the community and the people who live here,” Bynes noted. Her interpretation of the discourteous exposure of Brown’s bullet-riddled body resonates with those of other witnesses to the scene. Many agree that Brown’s body “sent the message from law enforcement that ‘we can do this to you any day, any time, in broad daylight, and there’s nothing you can do about it’” (NYT 8/23/14).

Bynes reads Brown’s body as a legible text. This proposal queries the role of children’s literature in relationship to rendering dead black bodies legible. Does children’s literature facilitate an enactment of what Michel Foucault calls “a policy of terror?” Does children’s literature function as part of a disciplinary apparatus reinforcing sovereign rule? What role does children’s literature play in civic responses to lethal police brutality and renderings of justice?

Please submit 250-300 word abstracts by March 1, 2016, to Michelle Hite ( Posted in calls for papers

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 (

CFP – Childhood by Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700-present

CFP—Childhood by Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700-present (edited volume)

Notions of sentimentality, nostalgia and timelessness cling to toys and the material world of childhood. In his landmark 1928 cultural history of toys, German art historian Karl Gröber framed playthings as material remnants of an illusionary landscape of child’s play that could never be regained by adults. To Gröber and other scholars taking an early interest in the material world of play, children throughout the ages shared universal preferences for simple, even crude, playthings intended for vigorous use. It was only adults’ inability to understand children’s supposed proclivity for simplicity that resulted in what cultural theorist Walter Benjamin likened to a monstrous proliferation of elaborate, factory-produced technological miniatures entirely unsuited to creative play. Despite the ways in which childhood has been viewed through such universalizing lenses, notions of children, childhood and the material world surrounding them are not static but historically and culturally specific.

Groundbreaking social-historical scholarship on the invention of childhood as a distinct stage of human development, most notably Philippe Ariès’s Centuries of Childhood, looked to the material artifacts of childhood and infancy as important evidence for widely-held, if rarely verbalized, attitudes towards children. Preceding mid twentieth-century social historians’ interest in the historical recognition of childhood, a separate genre of literature took shape that made understudied objects like miniatures, dollhouses and tin soldiers the explicit focus of study. But such early toy histories, aimed primarily at toy collectors, were remarkably unconcerned with socio-cultural constructions of childhood. Only more recently have toys and the material culture of childhood emerged as an important category for serious scholarly inquiry. Informed by developments in the fields of childhood studies, sociology, archaeology and material culture studies, much of this growing body of interdisciplinary literature has scrutinized how toys reflected broader cultural norms of childhood and play. Accommodating more than children’s immediate physical needs, distinct forms of furniture, clothing and playthings evolved in response to adult perceptions of children’s changing needs. Such literature has likewise revealed that the toy’s exclusive linkages with the realm of childhood represented a distinctly modern phenomenon in contrast to conceptual fluidity between automata, luxury miniatures and other early modern adult amusements, themes popularized through a series of recent museum exhibitions.

Informed by the analytical practices of the interdisciplinary “material turn,” the projected volume Childhood By Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood invites new approaches to the material world of childhood and design culture for children. Childhood by Design solicits essays that situate toys and design culture for children within broader narratives on art, design and the decorative arts, where toy design has traditionally been viewed as an aberration from more serious pursuits. The projected volume seeks contributions that treat toys not merely as unproblematic reflections of socio-cultural constructions of childhood but consider how design culture actively shaped, commodified and materialized shifting discursive constellations surrounding childhood and children. As such, the present volume seeks to explore dynamic tensions between theory and practice, discursive constructions and lived experience as embodied in the material culture of childhood. Contributions from and between a variety of disciplinary perspectives (including history, art history, material cultural studies, decorative arts, design history, and childhood studies) are welcome, but those that critically link historical discourses of childhood with close study of material objects and design culture for children are particularly encouraged.

Chronologically, the volume spans the 18th century, which witnessed the invention of the toy as an educational plaything and a proliferation of new material artifacts designed expressly for children’s use; through the 19th-century expansion of factory-based methods of toy production facilitating accuracy in miniaturization and a new vocabulary of design objects coinciding with the recognition of childhood innocence and physical separation within the household; towards the intersection of early 20th-century child-centered pedagogy and modernist approaches to nursery and furniture design; through the changing consumption and sales practices of the postwar period marketing directly to children through television, film and other digital media; and into the present, where the line between the material culture of childhood and adulthood is increasingly blurred. Although much of the literature on the invention of childhood assumes an implicitly Western perspective, the projected volume welcomes contributions that broach the topic from a global perspective.

Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Competing notions of the “educational toy” in theory and practice (Locke, Pestalozzi, Fröbel, Montesorri, etc.)
  • Objects such as miniatures, dollhouses, and card games whose historical usage has fluctuated between children and adults
  • Critical studies of the materiality and ephemerality of toys
  • Dialogues between changing conceptions of child nature, expected behavior and formal/stylistic developments in clothing, furniture, toy design, childrearing accessories and other ephemera
  • Avant-garde interventions in toy and children’s furniture design and fascination with dolls, puppets and automata
  • Nurseries, schools and playspaces as sites of architectural innovation
  • Modernist constructions of childhood, children’s creativity and the “childlike” as metaphors for artistic newness
  • Toys, play and design culture as instruments of political or ideological indoctrination
  • Connoisseurship and the collecting practices of individuals and institutions, including objects by children and amateur makers
  • Intermedial linkages between toys and popular culture, particularly the postwar “character toy” derived from films, animated television series and comic books and/or challenges to this pre-prescribed narrativization of play
  • Constructions of race, gender and class in children’s playthings, as well as alternative toys reclaiming pejorative stereotypes
  • Essays addressing the tension between “children’s material culture” (objects made or adapted by children for their own use) and “the material culture of childhood” (objects made by adults expressly for children’s use)

Potential contributors should send a 300 word abstract, brief bio and curriculum vitae as a single pdf document to by 31 March 2016. Final essays are limited to 6,000 words and may include two black-and-white images; inclusion of further images is under negotiation. Completed essays will be due 15 December 2016. Pending acceptance of the final project, the volume is slated to appear with a leading academic press with a strong reputation in visual studies and design. Please direct any inquiries to Megan Brandow-Faller, Associate Professor of History at the City University of New York/Kingsborough, at

CFP – Nordic Utopias and Dystopias

Call for Papers: Nordic Utopias and Dystopias
NorLit 2017
Nordic Literatures 2017
June 8-10, 2017
University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland

The Nordic countries have often been considered ideal states as regards their organization of society, including, among other things, their education systems, gender equality, and a strong concern for nature. From the late twentieth century onwards, an increasing interest in Nordic literature, film, and design – genres where social themes have been strongly highlighted – can be noted internationally. This discourse of the Nordic societies can be considered to contain both utopian and dystopian aspects. According to Ruth Levitas in her seminal work on utopian theory, The Concept of Utopia (1990), contemporary research of utopias is characterized by multiplicity. Levitas claims that the modern concept of utopia can be understood in accordance with criteria such as form, form and content, function, function and form, as well as by avoiding definitions altogether. If the concept is defined in terms of both form and content and, further, in accordance with Thomas More’s paradigmatic work Utopia (1516), the literary invention of utopia indicates that utopias are good places to be found nowhere. By depicting better societies and civilizations utopias are not only critical of society: they also seem to question the very idea of an ideal society altogether (Hewitt, 1987). In this respect utopias – be they understood as cultural genres, satires, political topoi, or ideologies – contain a dystopian potential or tendency. The opposite is, however, also the case. From Ernst Bloch’s definition of utopia as a site where the principle of hope is always at work, it must be concluded that the dystopia also carries a utopian potential. The ultimately good or bad society that does not exist anywhere can of course not be or become real. Nevertheless, what actually may be identified in most social, cultural and political undertakings and developments, are utopian tendencies as well as dystopian aspects.

We invite scholars in the fields of literature, culture, history, the social sciences and other related fields, to submit proposals for individual papers, panel-, poster-, or roundtable sessions, which relate to the general conference theme, defined in the widest possible sense.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Constructions of the Nordic welfare state
  • The welfare discourses of the 1920s and -30s in the individual Nordic countries
  • Transformations of the Nordic welfare discourses in the new millennium
  • The ‘folkhem’ (the people’s home)
  • Ecocriticism (e.g. mining landscapes; degraded landscapes; narratives of end preservation and the Ur-mountain as a cultural space; wild woods and cultural landscapes)
  • Nordic “other spaces” (e.g. the sauna)
  • The colonization of the Sapmi
  • Nordic desire
  • Nordic noir and Nordic nature
  • The image of the Nordic in non-Nordic literature
  • “Scandichic”
  • Arctic territories
  • The concepts of utopia and dystopia
  • Nordic lightscapes and darkscapes
  • The Nordic children’s idyll
  • Refugees and the Nordic countries
  • “Intersectional diplomacy”
  • The idea of Ultima Thule

Deadline for paper, poster or panel proposals: October 1, 2016.
E-mail your proposal to: