This is the home of the NCRCL blog, where you will find news, updates and posts from members of the staff, students and alumni at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) at Roehampton University in west London. You can read more about our popular MA in Children’s Literature which is run on-site and through distance learning, as well as undergraduate teaching in children’s literature in both our English and the Creative Writing departments. Please feel free to comment with questions or thoughts.
Saturday 2 June 2018 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Duchesne Building, Ground Floor, Digby Stuart Campus
You’re invited to the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature’s summer event! The Open Morning is an opportunity to learn more about our children’s literature programmes, meet the NCRCL team over tea and cakes, celebrate current research, and hear fantastic speakers. Current students and alumni are all warmly invited as is anyone curious about the work of the NCRCL, and anyone interested in applying to the MA/PG Dip in Children’s Literature, or undertaking doctoral research at the NCRCL.
We are delighted that Zoe Jacques, lecturer at Cambridge University and author of Children’s Literature and the Posthuman will be joining us this year to talk about her work on animals in children’s literature
Two MA alumni, Daisy Johnson and Mat Tobin, will also be in conversation with Alison Waller, discussing the exciting projects they have developed following their time at Roehampton.
There will be a chance to visit the Children’s Literature Archives and Collection, and plenty of time to talk to new and old friends. You can also buy second-hand books from a pop-up bookshop!
10.00 | Registration & refreshments
10.20 | Introduction from the NCRCL team
10.30 | Beyond the MA: in conversation with alumni from Children’s Literature
11.15 | MA Poster Presentations (a chance to talk to current students about their work), refreshments, book displays, and meeting the NCRCL team
12.00 | Zoe Jacques: on animals in children’s literature
12.45 | News from the NCRCL and Student Prizes
Refreshments and cakes will be available to everyone. If you would like something a little more substantial, the library café will be open for sandwiches and small snacks.
At the end of the morning you will be able to visit the Children’s Literature Collection in the library with Archives tutor, Dustin Frazier Wood.
There will also be a pop-up bookshop selling second-hand books.
There is no charge for the open day, but you will need to book a place for catering purposes. In order to book please email Madalina Miron at firstname.lastname@example.org before 25 May.
Images via CILIP
The MA Children’s Literature programme at the University of Roehampton runs a reading group Roehampton Readers, which discusses the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards shortlists as a shadowing group and post reviews to the shadowing site. The group meets weekly to read one of each of the titles shortlisted for the Carnegie and Greenaway awards, with a member of the group leading the discussion on each title.
The next meeting is on 25th April. We meet at 5.30 until around 7.00 in Fincham room 002 and the books we will discuss are After the Fire by Will Hill and A First Book of Animals illustrated by Petr Horáček and written by Nicola Davies.
All children’s literature students past and present are welcome to come along and we would love to have some new members.
NCRCL Open Morning
Saturday 2 June 2018 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Duchesne Building, Ground Floor, Digby Stuart Campus
Announcing the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature’s summer event! The Open Morning is an opportunity to meet the NCRCL team over tea and cakes, celebrate current research, and hear some fantastic speakers.
We are delighted to announce that Zoe Jacques, lecturer at Cambridge University and author of Children’s Literature and the Posthuman, will be joining us this year to talk about her cutting-edge work. We also welcome back two of our MA alumni, Daisy Johnson and Mat Tobin, who will be discussing exciting projects they have developed since their time at Roehampton. There will be a chance to visit the Children’s Literature Archives and Collection, and plenty of time to talk to new and old friends. More details to follow.
Current students and alumni are all warmly invited, as is anyone interested in applying to the MA/PG Dip in Children’s Literature. Please also join us if you are curious about the work of the NCRCL, or thinking about undertaking doctoral research at the NCRCL.
There is no charge for the Open Morning, but you will need to book a place for catering purposes. In order to book please email Madalina Miron at email@example.com
“It’s not someone unless it can talk! Otherwise it’s just food!”
Ontological Dialogues and the Metaphysical Structures of Children’s Literature
Dr Lisa Sainsbury, NCRCL
Department of English and Creative Writing, University of Roehampton
In this talk I will reveal a pattern of dialogue that can be found in children’s books across different periods and cultures. The ‘ontological argument’ is a polemical vein that runs through dialogues in children’s literature from Tom’s Midnight Garden (1958) by Philippa Pearce to Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (2014). Evaluations of power are central to dialogues that rehearse tensions between Kantian and Cartesian notions of existence as property — and I show that changing attitudes to childhood and its literature can be traced in the way these dialogues are framed. Some of these arguments are between one child and another (peer dialogues), as is the case in Pearce’s novel, while others are between adults and children (adult-child dialogues), as in The Book of Everything (2006) by Guus Kuijer. The dialogues offer a form for the working through of power relations rooted in and out of existential crisis. For the characters involved, being is at stake in the dialogue — ‘Nothing exists any longer. I don’t either’ (Kuijer 2006: 14) — and the common factor across these texts is this sort of ontological struggle. The wider significance of this existential concern is revealed by the ubiquity of such dialogue and I will suggest that close examination of the ontological argument is key to understanding the formal structures and deep concerns of children’s literature.
Wednesday 21st March 2018, 1-2pm*
Fincham Building, Fi 001
Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton
* Please note that this talk will be accompanied by a research talk by Dr Kate Teltscher: ‘“Gigantic children of the sun”: Kew’s Palm House and the Victorian Cultural Imagination’
On 15th December 2017, two NCRCL PhD candidates — Sinéad Moriarty and Anne Malewski — were invited speakers at the Dulwich Picture Gallery‘s sold-out A Moomin Winter’s Eve event in connection with their Tove Jansson exhibition.
Feeling at Home: Home Spaces in Tove Jansson’s Moomin Novels
In The Poetics of Space (1964), Gaston Bachelard talks about the home as “the human being’s first world” and argues that “always, in our daydreams, the house is a large cradle”. The concept of home is also fundamental within our first literary world: children’s literature. In our talk, we explored ideas of home and home spaces in Tove Jansson’s Moomin novels.
We discussed the importance of the idea of home in human culture generally and in children’s literature in particular, examined spaces Tove Jansson made a home for herself in ‘real’ life and through her art, and then analysed representations of home in four of her Moomin novels: Finn Family Moomintroll, Moominland Midwinter, Moominpappa at Sea, and Moominvalley in November.
The 24th annual IBBY/NCRCL MA Conference took place on 11th November 2017 at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in London. This year’s theme was ‘Happily Ever After: The Evolution of Fairy Tales Across Time and Cultures’. Nick Campbell, who completed his PhD with the NCRCL this year, reports on his experience of the conference.
Once upon a time, not my time, not your time, but a very good time, a bold traveller arrived at a marvellous, gleaming building, in a city of endless rains – and there, I was given a cup of coffee, a biscuit and a schedule for the annual IBBY/NCRCL conference. This year, the theme of the conference was fairy tales: telling them, retelling them and rereading them.
There is a strange magic in the collaborative nature of this conference: the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature, and the International Board on Books for the Young, which seeks to promote international understanding through children’s books. Added to that interdisciplinary character was our venue that day, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. The conference audience was formed of teachers, librarians, academics, writers and illustrators, representing many perspectives and experiences. This multiplicity was reflected in the speakers: researchers, writers, a translator, an illustrator, a publisher.
We are pleased to announce that the current round of applications for our annual scholarships in children’s literature is open.
TECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership 2018
We invite applications from outstanding candidates for our TECHNE AHRC doctoral studentships. Studentships are awarded in departments across the university, but the NCRCL will consider applications for projects related to children’s literature or creative writing for children. Projects drawing on our archival holdings – such as the Richmal Crompton archive – will be especially welcome. For more information and details of how to apply, please see our Graduate School pages:
There will be an Open Evening for interested applicants on Tuesday 7 Nov 2017 from 5.30 p.m. at Grove House on our Froebel campus – please register here and contact Prof. Peter Jaeger for details P.Jaeger@roehampton.ac.uk
Postgraduate Research Studentships – Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship 2018
In addition to TECHNE studentships, we will award our annual Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship to a candidate of the highest calibre. Applicants for TECHNE awards will be considered automatically for the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship, so please apply for a TECHNE studentship in the first instance. Candidates who do not secure TECHNE funding will be eligible to compete for the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship – you do not need to apply separately (please note that although TECHNE funding can be secured by students who have already started their doctoral studies, the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship is only open to new applicants).
This studentship will be awarded to an emerging scholar working in the field of children’s literature or creative writing for children. The Jacqueline Wilson Scholar will be based in the award-winning NCRCL with access to the Children’s Literature Collection and archives, and will join a lively community of researchers, writers and students. This fully funded scholarship will cover home/EU fees of £4,195 for Home/EU students and maintenance of £16,553 p.a. for 3 years full-time subject to satisfactory progress. (NB – these figures are correct for 2017-18 and are yet to be confirmed for 2018-19).