CFP – Children’s Literature, Childhood Death, and the Emotions in the Long Eighteenth Century

CALL FOR PAPERS for a two-day symposium on
Children’s Literature, Childhood Death, and the Emotions in the Long Eighteenth Century

Date: 5-6 December, 2013
Venue: The University of Western Australia

Although historians from many disciplines have begun the work of documenting the histories of childhood and childhood culture, very little is known about the ways in which emotions relating to childhood were represented to children through the literature and accompanying images created for, about and, occasionally, by them. Currently the majority of work on children’s literature sits outside cognate historical studies. This symposium, co-hosted with the Children’s Literature Unit of Newcastle University, UK, will bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to build links with children’s literature studies through an examination of material relating to the death of children. It aims to develop understanding of how children were taught about, experienced and taught to manage the powerful emotions associated with the death of children – siblings, friends, characters in texts or their own impending death – and how attitudes and responses to a range of emotions changed across time and place. In addition to materials specifically for children, sources of interest include diaries, journals, correspondence, teaching materials, medical treatises, drawings, samplers, ballads, legal papers, instructions for rituals and any other kinds of documents and materials that provide insights into children’s emotional reactions to childhood death and the emotions children’s deaths provoked in others. The symposium will demonstrate the value of putting information about children alongside texts for children.

To facilitate connections across disciplines and to strengthen research through participation, all papers will be given in plenary sessions using a mixture of co-ordinated panels, individual speakers and prepared responses. There will be no charge for registration, but since it may be necessary to limit numbers, all who wish to attend in person at UWA should indicate this in advance.

Video link presentations are possible.

Confirmed plenary speakers from the Children’s Literature Unit in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, UK

  • Kate Chedgzoy, Professor of Renaissance Literature and Head of School
  • Matthew Grenby, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Kimberley Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature

Proposals are invited for papers on any topic from any discipline that can be used to increase understanding of how the death of children was presented to children in texts for them as part of the emotional economies of the period. Deadline for responses 31 July 2013.

Topics of interest could include but are not limited to:

  • Childhood death and grief/sorrow
  • Adults’ responses to childhood death
  • Institutional responses to childhood death
  • Illustrating death for/of children
  • Managing children’s responses to childhood death
  • Children’s fear of death
  • Emotions associated with potentially fatal illnesses and injuries
  • Child martyrdom, child murder and infanticide
  • Dramatizing the death of children

It is intended to bring a number of papers from the conference together to create either an edited volume suitable, for example, for the Palgrave History of Childhood series, or a special number of an appropriate peer-reviewed journal.

Please send 300-word abstracts to by 31 July 2013. General queries about the conference theme should also be sent to Kim Reynolds at that address.

Queries about travel, venue and other practical arrangements should be addressed to Pam Bond at UWA: