CFP – Special Issue of Children’s Readings: The 1917 Revolution and Children’s Literature

Call for Papers
Children’s Readings 12
1917 год и детская литература – The 1917 Revolution and Children’s Literature
Issue Publication: October 2017
Issue Editors: Sara Pankenier Weld and Svetlana Maslinskaia
Journal website:

We propose to dedicate issue 12 of Children’s Readings [Detskie chteniia] to the centennial of the 1917 Revolution.

Samuil Marshak formulated the widely accepted conception of Soviet children’s literature: “One cannot live only on one’s legacy, however great it might have been. We must ourselves create our present and future – a new literature, which fully reflects our time and even glimpses further into the future.” Marshak repeatedly spoke about new authors, new themes, new protagonists – about the new “big literature for the young.” Such a contrast-based history of children’s literature, clearly divided into a “then and now” demarcated by the events of the year 1917, has been reproduced uncritically during the course of the entire Soviet (and post-Soviet) period in domestic and foreign research and textbooks for higher education.

A “pre-revolutionary” and “post-revolutionary” periodization proves typical in the structure of histories of Russian children’s literature in the 20th century: the 1918 article by Kormchy styles itself as a Rubicon between old and new literatures and the post-revolutionary body of “progressive” children’s writers is construed as a team of like-minded confederates: “Gorky + Chukovsky + Marshak’s editorship.” On the whole, literary production for children in the second half of the 1910s-1920s is described in terms of an opposition to tradition, the overcoming of old themes and genres, a rupture in individual artistic practice, and so on.

In our view, this view demands further scrutiny. Of course, it is impossible to deny the fact that, after the revolution, the set of authors changed, publishers and editions appeared and disappeared, some works were forbidden, while each year some were reissued, new illustrators arrived, the range of literary themes and plots was renewed, new types of protagonists emerged, and so on. However, it is not clear in which ways and when there occurred (and if there did really occur?) a break between pre-Soviet and Soviet periods in the historical development of children’s literature. Did it primarily pertain to the organization of the literary process or did it alter the very character of literary texts? Is it possible to speak of stages in the development of Russian children’s literature or does a stage-based approach simplify the historical picture of its development?

We invite you to consider the following questions:

  1. Did a rupture in literary tradition occur in the year 1917? If it did occur, then how was it manifest and in what way did it proceed? Is it possible to propose a model not based on conflict for the changes occurring in children’s literature in the 1910s and 1920s?
  2. What did critics of the 1920s mean when they spoke of pre-revolutionary traditions in children’s literature? What, in your view, might be considered innovative in children’s literature of the 1920s and 1930s, and what might appear to be a development of the pre-revolutionary period?
  3. Did any forgotten experiments in children’s literature from the beginning of the 1910s reappear under new historical circumstances? Was it, in fact, principally new forms that were being put forward?
  4. How did modernism and the avant-garde figure in children’s literature of the 1910s-1920s? Was the revolution a reason for the gradual crowding out of modernism in the 1920s? What were the reasons for the fate of the avant-garde in Soviet children’s literature?
  5. Is it possible to consider the period of the 1920s-1930s a time of degradation/launching of children’s literature?
  6. What were the historical trajectories of work by children’s writers and illustrators beginning in the pre-revolutionary period and then continuing “under the Soviets” or in the “emigration”?
  7. How has children’s literature developed in other countries with similar historical situations of revolutionary upheaval? Is it possible to identify some common patterns?

Formatting guidelines for articles:
The proposed length of the articles is between 6,000 and 8,000 words including the bibliography.
Language of your submission: English or Russian.
The deadline for submission is June 1, 2017.

Your inquiries and submissions should be directed to the following address: