Kay Waddilove: Motherhood in 1950s Populist Children’s Literature

You are warmly invited to

‘Housewife or Citizen? Constructing Motherhood in Populist Children’s Literature of the 1950s’
Kay Waddilove, NCRCL PhD Candidate, Roehampton University

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1957 cover of John Bull magazine. Image via Gillian Thomas.

The talk examines the construction of motherhood in stories by four popular children’s writers in the context of post-war citizenship. Giving central importance to the family was seen by government as a crucial part of national reconciliation after the Second World War, and a new concept of wives and mothers as citizens was to emerge. The traditional female role became a lynchpin of consensus, and the consequent gendered notions of citizenship for women conflated their performance of the maternal biological and nurturing role with their proficiency as housewives. This talk will situate representations of mothers by popular authors such as Noel Streatfeild and Enid Blyton within such discursive constructions of maternity during the 1950s.

Wednesday 7th December
1-2 pm
Fincham 001, Roehampton University

ALL WELCOME

Crossover Robinsonades: NCRCL Research Talk with Ian Kinane

NCRCL/English and Creative Writing Research Talk

‘Fairchild’s Noble Savage and the Social Contract in Several Classic Crossover Robinsonades’

 Dr. Ian Kinane, University of Roehampton

In this paper, I argue that the island trope in several Robinsonade narratives functions, in part, as a means of interrogating the relationship between individualism (the single, solitary Crusoe-figure who exists in isolation) and socialisation. I will examine the conflict between the individual castaway’s desires to subsist in isolation and the inevitable pull exerted by her/his obligation to the society or social model from whence she/he came. Using Fairchild’s concept of the noble savage (a watchful, reflective entity), I will explore the ways in which the child configures her/his relationship to others on the island, and the ways in which she/he carves out a metaphoric “I-land” for her/himself.

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Detail from Neil Gower’s 2011 cover for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Image via Gower.

Wednesday 30th November 2016, 1 pm

Duchesne 001, Digby Stuart, University of Roehampton

ALL WELCOME

Research Talk: Transitional Identities: Crossing the Threshold in Young Adult Genre Fiction

English and Creative Writing Research Talk

‘Transitional Identities: Crossing the Threshold in Young Adult Genre Fiction’

Human Sadri, University of Gothenburg

Wednesday 19th October, 1pm

Fincham 001, Digby Stuart, University of Roehampton

Do the protagonists of Young Adult genre narratives correspond to the status of monomythical hero, and if so to what extent? 

Maria Nikolajeva has noted that fiction written specifically for a younger audience tends to correspond to the monomyth, or Hero’s Journey, as defined by the mythologist Joseph Campbell. This pattern describes the trajectory of the protagonist of any given narrative from that which they are now towards the person they are ultimately meant to become. Nikolajeva argues that “[t]he hero in Campbell’s model is a young person going through a rite of passage. In this respect, the pattern of all children’s literature is similar to the monomyth, and all characters in children’s fiction are a further development of the mythic hero.”1 She suggests that this is doubly true of fantasy-based Young Adult (YA) and children’s literature, wherein the crossing of the threshold tends to be represented by the literal transportation of the protagonist to some kind of alternate world or reality.2 In contrast to the literalism of this approach, in which Campbell’s narrative model is taken in its entirety as the basis for YA narrative structure, this paper sets out to suggest that these fantastic realist narratives – while conforming to monomythical structures and tropes – actually represent only the fulfilment of the first chapter of Campbell’s pattern. By the conclusion of their narrative trajectory the protagonists have achieved only the crossing of the threshold into burgeoning maturity or adulthood, as opposed to enlightenment or a boon for mankind. Throughout their respective narratives, these nascent heroes develop transitional identities, and the boon they achieve is to cross the threshold towards eventually becoming their true selves. This analysis is supported through a dual methodology. Firstly, through close readings of three key YA genre texts – Coraline by Neil Gaiman, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond. These have been chosen not only for the contrasting ways in which they approach folkloric and mythological tropes and storytelling patterns, but also because of the differing ages of the novels’ protagonists; in this way I also explore the different implications of the transitions in question on young people at different stages of their emotional development. Secondly, the stages of the Hero’s Journey itself, and the movement of the adult hero towards the boon of enlightenment are contrasted with that of the young hero towards the goal of beginning his or her journey anew, and in doing this the monomyth is shown to be open-ended in nature: enlightenment does not need to be a boon that is only granted once.

1 Nikolajeva, Maria. “The Changing Aesthetics of Character in Children’s Fiction.” Style Volume 35, No.3, 2001. (p431.) 2 Ibid.

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Bookings Open! IBBY/NCRCL Conference ‘Marvellous Imaginations’ 2016


23rd Annual NCRCL MA/IBBY UK Conference 

Saturday 5th November 2016, 9:00-17:00

Froebel College, University of Roehampton 

Marvellous Imaginations – Extending thinking through picture books

This year’s conference explores the ways in which picture books contribute to the development of the child (or / and indeed the adult) through critical, imaginative, empathetic, creative or other responses.  We will look at the international world of picture books; at trends and developments in creating picture books and publishing; at research on children’s interaction with picture books; and at some of the wide range of programmes and projects that use picture books as a starting point for their work.

We will hear from eminent illustrators, including Laura Carlin who will be presented with her medal for winning Biennale of Illustration, Bratislava, one of the oldest international honours for children’s book illustrators, and about the new Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting newcomer to picture book illustration.

Find out more details from the programme on the IBBY UK website

Book tickets online at the Roehampton e-store now! 

NCRCL Research Talk: Kitchens and Edges: The Politics of Hair in African-American Children’s Picture Books

NCRCL Research Talk

‘Kitchens and Edges:

The Politics of Hair in African-American Children’s Picture Books’

Dr. Michelle Martin, Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor of Children and Youth Services                    iSchool, University of Washington

bell hooks, Neal Lester, Noliwe M. Rooks and others have written on the politics of African-American hair and the way that Black women and girls, subjected to “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” (hooks, “Straightening”), feel enormous pressure to conform to the White beauty standard. Instead of accepting their naturally textured hair, these scholars assert, African-American women and girls collectively spend millions of dollars annually to have it straightened, extended and/or altered in other ways to make it straighter, longer, lighter and often more similar to Caucasian hair.  This essay builds on that work, taking as a starting point Martin’s and Washington’s autobiographical hair tales and making the primary focus of the argument a select subset of children’s picture books about Afro hair: Camille Yarbrough and Carol Byard’s Cornrows (1979), Alexis De Veaux’s An Enchanted Hair Tale (1987), Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E.B. Lewis’s I Love My Hair (1998),  Carolivia Herron and Joe Cepeda’s Nappy Hair (1999), bell hooks and Chris Raschka’s Happy to be Nappy (1999), Sylviane A. Diouf’s and Shane Evans’ Bintou’s Braids (2001), and Dinah Johnson and Kelly Johnson’s Hair Dance! (2007).

Wednesday 21st September 2016, 6-7pm

Convent Parlour, Digby Stuart, Roehampton

Refreshments Provided

ALL WELCOME

A Distance Learning Student Visits the NCRCL Open Day 2016

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The annual NCRCL Open Day was held on Saturday 11th June 2016 at Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton. Gail Pilkington, a Distance Learning MA student, attended the event and has written her impressions of the day.

By Gail Pilkington

Visiting the university as a distance learner can be a little daunting, especially with all the building work on campus, but from the security staff to fellow students everyone I met was exceedingly helpful and friendly.  With excellent cake, biscuits, and coffee, the Open Day started with informal chats and the air of hospitality continued. Having only met my tutors through Skype, it was lovely to actually see them and to hear the brief introductions from all the NCRCL staff.

 

Aidan Chambers then began his talk ‘The Stranger Within Me’ and the audience was captivated.  We were challenged: Who is your second self?  Who is the stranger within, the writer who writes? While the talk took some unexpected turns, the time passed unbelievably quickly with everyone being challenged to “find your voice”.  Inspired, we took our first break to chat with other attendees and lecturers, as well as to see the posters* produced by final year students on their dissertations, both critical and creative. We returned for the second part of Aidan Chambers’ talk with bated breath: Chambers’ story of finding the stranger within him, the true voice for each of his novels.  We were encouraged to see the novel as an artwork, but to understand that in undertaking a novel we needed ‘the energy of delusion’, the confidence to write and to fail.

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Nivia De Andrade Lima, winner of the Penni Cotton Prize for work in Visual Texts, with Professor David Rudd.

We could have continued to listen to Aiden Chambers all day, but unfortunately our time was nearing its end. The morning concluded with hearing about the excellent work of two current MA students: Nivia De Andrade Lima, Distance Learning MA student, was awarded the Penni Cotton Prize for her Visual Texts essay ‘The Ironic Use of the Gutter in Postmodern Picturebooks’; Emily England received the Pinsent Prize for her strong performance on the on-site programme; and Annette Russell was awarded the Hancock Prize for her strong performance on the Distance Learning programme and her dissertation, ‘”Who’s that girl?” Fracturing postmodern female selfhood in adolescent fiction’.

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Children’s Literature Collection in the Roehampton University Library

The Open Day finished with a tour of the university library by Julie Mills, Subject Librarian in Children’s Literature, which in itself was a great reason to visit the campus. The tour was enhanced with tips from other students on good books to read for next year’s modules….so much for a summer beach read!

*Poster presentations by current MA students studying on-site or by distance learning. A winner was selected from each group.

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Winning poster by Siobhan O’Brien, Distance Learning MA student.

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Winning poster by Stine Storli Andreassen, on-site MA student.