The First Issue of RoundTable

The first issue of RoundTable, the new postgraduate journal for academic and creative writing at the University of Roehampton, is now available online (open access)! The first issue focuses on the theme of journey and includes fascinating children’s literature-related content: a candid interview with Professor David Rudd, academic articles, a YA short story, and reviews! You can access the journal here.

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The cover of the first issue

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RoundTable Journal Launch

Welcome to the launch of RoundTable, the English and Creative Writing Department’s new postgraduate journal:

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RoundTable is a peer-reviewed journal which actively promotes original and imaginative work by postgraduates and early career researchers within the fields of Children’s Literature, Creative Writing, and English Literature. RoundTable is invested in fostering a postgraduate community committed to research and practice beyond discipline boundaries.
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Mapping the Antarctic for Children: Publication in Children’s Literature in Education Journal

NCRCL PhD candidate Sinéad Moriarty’s article “Unstable Space: Mapping the Antarctic for Children in ‘Heroic Era’ Antarctic Literature” was published in Children’s Literature in Education  in January 2017.

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Illustration of a map in William Grill’s Shackleton’s Journey which Sinéad discusses in her article. Image via William Grill.

Here is the abstract of Sinéad’s article:

This article examines the Antarctic landscape as one of the last places in the world to be explored and mapped, and as one of the most changeable landscapes in the world. The mapping exercises involved in the early, heroic-era Antarctic expeditions, helped to reduce a once mysterious and unknown landscape into a known entity, something that could be contained and restrained through visual representation. These maps focus on the limits of landscape, on the outer edges and the upper peaks and so mapping minimises and places limits upon landscapes, creating an image of the landscape which is static, re-presented for human consumption. The article will, therefore, look at the use of maps in a cross-section of six heroic-era Antarctic non-fiction narratives for children written within the last twenty years, and which recount the early Antarctic expeditions, recreating and re-presenting heroic-era maps as a means of enforcing stasis on this dynamic landscape. The children’s stories, such as Michael McCurdy’s Trapped by the Ice! (1997), Meredith Hooper’s Race to the Pole (2002), and Dowdeswell, Dowdeswell & Seddon’s Scott of the Antarctic (2012), show that the stultifying effect of maps is exacerbated in the children’s heroic-era narratives as they seek to fix the landscape geographically, as well as temporally, in the early twentieth century. The article will examine the way in which the maps in the modern retellings of heroic-era narratives seek to undermine the mutable nature of the Antarctic in order to present the child reader with an image of the continent, which is dominated by stasis.

You can access the article here.

Sinéad Moriarty is a PhD candidate at the NCRCL. Her work focuses on representations of the Antarctic in literature for children, and how authors have understood and represented this ‘wild’ landscape.

Discovering Diamonds: MA student publication in John Meade Falkner Society Journal

NCRCL MA student, Jonathan Brough, writes about his experience in researching and writing his essay/article ‘Prosper the Bonaventure… Storm Coming Now’ for Travels in Children’s Literature. The article will now be published in John Meade Falkner Society Journal (forthcoming July 2015).

Discovering Diamonds

By Jonathan Brough

Appropriately enough for an essay to be submitted as the Travels in Children’s Literature assignment, it all began with a trip to New York City and a side-adventure to the bookstores of Union Square. Barnes and Noble was the source of a copy of the latest Horn Book and, having read an intriguing review (and succumbed to some very clever advertising) for a new teenage title by South African writer Michael Williams, I journeyed through the eighteen miles of books shelved in the nearby Strand Book Store and finally found a copy.

diamond boyEvery so often in life, perhaps once every eight years or so, I’ve discovered a book that just stops my world, everything else pales into insignificance and venturing through the narrative of the novel is the only thing that matters. I’m transported into a world utterly alien to me, but one that I can also completely understand; I’ve never had any of the experiences depicted in the plot, but I can empathise with all the characters nonetheless. The list is short: The Remains of the Day, To Kill a Mockingbird, Waterland, The Fault in Our Stars perhaps, but my find that day has definitely become a member of the short but select group. I started reading it on a bench in Union Square, somehow — I genuinely don’t remember how — I got myself back on the subway to my hotel room and I finished it at about two o’clock the next morning. It was Diamond Boy (2014) by Michael Williams.

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Alumni News: Looking for Ideology in Children’s Fiction Regarding the Holocaust

NCRCL Alumni Spotlight: Nadine Majaro, Distance Learning MA 2012, has recently published an article based on her MA thesis, entitled ‘Reimagining Significances: do authors of children’s fictions about the Holocaust convey ideological positions which reflect their national background?’. Below is a short piece from Nadine on how she made the transition from MA thesis to publication, an abstract for the paper, and a link to the full text of the article.

boy-in-striped-pyjamasFrom Nadine Majaro

Those of you who have completed your dissertations will know how they take over your life – you go to bed thinking about the perfectly crafted sentence and hope that, when you wake up, you will remember your brilliant night-time ideas.

I am sure that some of you feel that, once all the writing and proofing is finished, you never want to look at your dissertation again.But I felt a bit differently.I was proud of my work and wanted to try to make it more widely available. Gillian Lathey recommended that I consider editing my dissertation for the Journal of Children’s Literature Studies.I did a bit of research on the journal and found that I could not even access it through the British Library – this set a few alarm bells ringing but I decided to give it a go anyhow.

The first stage was to cut 20,000 words down to 6,000. Pretty daunting. My dissertation was on the ideologies conveyed by three books about the Holocaust for young readers.I argued that those ideologies are strongly influenced by the history or culture of the countries in which the authors work. I wrote about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne from Ireland, Milkweed, by Jerry Spinelli from America and Once by Morris Gleitzman, who lives in Australia.

I decided that the easiest way to deal with the word count would be to take out an entire section. I cut out the section on the Gleitzman book – not without regret as I thought it was the best of the three books I had covered, but it is in some ways the most complex so I thought it would be harder to abbreviate.Once I started cutting words out, it became surprisingly satisfying!

I submitted the article to the editors and received some very helpful comments from two referees.Having made their suggested changes and put all the referencing into the form required by the journal, I received a nasty shock.The journal had gone out of business, so perhaps I should have heeded the earlier warning signs.However, Bridget Carrington and Pat Pinsent, the editors, told me that the New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship were looking for contributions, so I sent my article to them.To my delight, it was accepted with no further need for refereeing.All I had to do was change the referencing system for the third time – still, it was worth it to see my work in print.

milkweedAbstract

This article examines two books about the Holocaust, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne from Ireland and Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli from America, and argues that they contain both overt and covert ideological positions, some of which are strongly influenced by the history or culture of the countries in which the authors work. This argument is supported by a detailed examination using a toolkit derived from work on ideology by a number of academics, including Peter Hollindale, Robert Sutherland, and John Stephens. This examination of the texts is extended to cover some of the questions raised in the extensive debates on Holocaust literature including whether there is a moral responsibility to convey facts accurately and how the victims of the Holocaust should be portrayed. This work demonstrates that the shared surface ideology of the books co-exists with extensive differences in hidden ideology, some of them troubling.

Link to article

Nadine Majaro completed an MA in Children’s Literature after a long career as an accountant in the City of London. She is now heavily involved in various charities.

Melvin Burgess at Roehampton

Melvin Burgess
Melvin Burgess

Melvin Burgess

Back in April, Melvin Burgess came to talk to students at Roehampton about his recent homage to Dickens, Nicholas Dane, which is taught on a course called ‘Literature and Childhood’. The talk drew postgraduates and interested staff as well as undergraduates, and Melvin widened his discussion to reflect on his best-known novel Junk, as well as some of his more recent projects in places as far-flung as Congo and Twitter. He answered a lot of questions about sex, drugs, and his favourite books too…

I am editing a scholarly collection of essays on Melvin’s work for Palgrave Macmillan, so while he was down in London I also undertook a longer interview to be part of this collection. It will be published next year as part of the New Casebook series, which is being launched with a focus on children’s authors. I’m very excited that Melvin Burgess features in the second way of these Casebooks (which already profile Roald Dahl, Robert Cormier, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling), and am looking forward to helping get some of his early work – such as The Cry of the Wolf and The Baby and Fly Pie – critically examined, as well as reviewing the debates about his more controversial writing.