NCRCL Open Day 2017

 

The annual NCRCL Open Day was held on Saturday 13th May 2017 at Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton.

As usual, the Open Day was an exciting opportunity to meet new, current, and past students and staff over cupcakes, Danish pastries, cookies, tea, juice, and coffee. Apart from marvelling at displays of children’s literature treasures, staff publications, and poster presentations by current MA students, we also enjoyed fascinating talks by Zetta Elliott and Peter Hunt.

Zetta Elliott: “Inclusivity and Indie Authors: the Case for Community-Based Publishing”

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Photograph via Zetta Elliot

Award-winning Canadian author and educator Zetta Elliott spoke of her experiences as an author published through both traditional publishing and self-publishing routes. She advocated for “organic writing”, which “originates within a particular community and emerges without outsider approval and/or interference”, and prioritises the welfare of the community over commercial success. The value of self-publishing for marginalised groups was underlined by Elliott pointing out bleak statistics related to white supremacy in the American publishing industry:

 

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Infographic via Sarah Park

 

The infographic draws on Rudine Sims Bishop’s notion that books can function as mirrors, windows, and sliding doors for their readers. Elliott commented: “if you don’t see your reflection, your reality isn’t validated.” Moreover, she argued that it is important for everyone to read ‘diverse’ books – “books are for everybody”.

Elliott mentioned her own childhood experience of finding her reflection in Ezra Jack Keats’s books but not in any of the British fantasy stories she read, such as The Secret Garden, The Phoenix and the Carpet, or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. From these fantasies, she learned that magic things only happen to white people in England, a narrative she counters in her recent Brixton-based novel The Ghosts in the Castle (2017). You can find out more about her books here.

Peter Hunt: “Wyrd Sister! Children’s Literature – Where We’ve Come from and Where We’re Going Or Why Children’s Literature Studies are The Best”

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Photograph via Peter Hunt

Distinguished children’s literature critic Peter Hunt, the first Professor of Children’s Literature in the UK and Professor Emeritus of Children’s Literature at Cardiff University, gave us a whistle-stop tour of developments in the field of children’s literature criticism.

He spoke fondly of the NCRCL, declaring it “the best place to study children’s literature”, and warmly recommended the children’s literature section of the library at the University of Roehampton, where he himself likes to “graze the shelves” when he is on campus and, after decades of studying children’s literature, still finds things of interest.

He concluded his talk by showing us a serendipitous find, Helen Bannerman’s The Story of Little Degchie-Head, a cautionary tale about a girl who likes poking fires and, due to this hobby, ends up with a doll’s head after burning off her own.

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Cover via AbeBooks

The Open Day also celebrated current students’ work. Nicki Oakes-Monger won the prize for the best poster presentation, Mary Bardet won the Hancock Prize, Jessica Lack the  Pinsent Prize, and Siobhan O’Brien the Cotton Prize. The day ended with a hugs and flowers for Julie Mills, our brilliant subject librarian, who is retiring this summer and will be much missed.

 

Anne Malewski is a PhD candidate at the NCRCL. Her doctoral research examines the changing boundaries between childhood and adulthood in twenty-first century Britain through the concept of growth.

Bookings for the NCRCL Open Day!

NCRCL Open Day

Saturday 13th May 2017 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Duchesne Building, Ground Floor, Digby Stuart Campus

Welcome to the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature’s spring event for MA/PG Dip and PhD students past, present, and future! The Open Day is an opportunity to meet the NCRCL team over tea and cakes, celebrate current research, and hear fantastic speakers.

We are delighted to announce that award-winning Canadian author and educator Zetta Elliott, an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing, and distinguished children’s literature critic Peter Hunt, the first Professor of Children’s Literature in the UK, will be joining us this year.

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!

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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.

Bookings for NCRCL Open Day!

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NCRCL Open Day

Saturday 11th June2016, 10:00am to 1:00pm

Ground Floor, Duchesne Building, Digby Stuart College

The NCRCL invites you to an exciting summer event for MA/PG Dip and PhD students past, present and future.

The open day will include:

*   Tea, Coffee and Conversation — meeting the NCRCL team
*   Aidan Chambers, our invited guest, speaking about his creative and critical practice
*   Presentations from NCRCL Staff about research and teaching interests
*   Poster presentations from current MA Dissertation students
*   MA Children’s Literature Prize-giving
*   Pop-up Bookshop
*   Optional visit to the Children’s Literature Collection in the Library

Current students and alumni are all welcome as is anyone interested in applying to the MA/PG Dip in Children’s Literature, or undertaking doctoral research at the NCRCL.

There is no charge for the open day, but you will need to book a place for catering purposes. In order to book please contact Julia Noyce: Julia.Noyce@roehampton.ac.uk

Report: NCRCL Open Day 2015

ncrcllogoBy Rebecca Wallis, MA student (Distance Learning)

To those visiting Roehampton University campus for the first time on 30thMay, the prospect of a talk on ‘mapping nonsense’ might have seemed apt, as building works required a circuitous route to be navigated to the car park. But the welcome at Duchesne building was, as always, warm and friendly for current and prospective students and alumni.

A brief coffee provided an energy boost to those of us who’d enjoyed an early start, and we moved into the lecture theatre where Lisa Sainsbury, on-site convener of the MA in Children’s Literature, introduced Olga Holownia (University of Iceland). Olga’s talk: ‘An Island made of water quite surrounded by earth’. Mapping out the seascape of nonsense literature took us on a journey through the works of children’s authors renowned for their nonsense writing, including Lear and Gorey, but with a focus on the illustrations that accompanied and enhanced their work. In particular, Olga looked at the use of maps, through which we attempt to structure our interpretation of a story, to make ‘sense’of ‘nonsense’ as it were. But even though the components of nonsense literature can be defined, as by Wim Tigges in his An Anatomy of Literary Nonsense, its very nature means that it is imprecise, playing with boundaries and subverting expectations. Olga’s visual voyage of images, rhymes, and ideas finished with a trip through the maelstrom, to arrive at a second coffee break.

This offered the opportunity to look at the Poster presentations created by current MA dissertation students: several were in attendance to discuss their research. With themes as diverse as dystopian Young Adult fiction, Harry Potter, and dogs in mythology it provided an insight for those considering the MA into the multiple directions in which the course can take you. Students answered questions from staff and visitors, including describing their research to author and Roehampton Chancellor, Professor Dame Jacqueline Wilson – who was to be the next speaker of the day.

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Reminder: NCRCL Open Day & Virtual Open Day

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A brief reminder that the NCRCL Virtual Open Day: Live Seminar will be held online this Friday 29th May from 19:00-20:00. If you are interested in joining this live session, please email Alison at a.waller@roehampton.ac.uk. The Virtual Open Day is ongoing and currently available online.

The NCRCL Open Day will be held on campus at Roehampton University on Saturday 30th May from 10:00-13:00. Research talks include presentations by Olga Holownia (University of Iceland) and Jacqueline Wilson, children’s author and Chancellor of Roehampton University. There is no charge for the open day, but you will need to book a place for catering purposes. In order to book please contact Julia Noyce: Julia.Noyce@roehampton.ac.uk.

We hope to meet you at either event!

Travels in Children’s Literature

We asked two of the current students of the MA in Children’s Literature, Judith Digby and Katharina Schaefers, to write about their experiences from the Travels in Children’s Literature module taught by Dr Alison Waller in Spring 2015.

As part of the MA in Children’s Literature, the Travel in Children’s Literature module aims to ‘examine the importance of travel and journeys in classic and contemporary children’s literature. Through texts such as the seminal Gulliver’s Travels and more recent books such as The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, students will explore the role of literary children as explorers and adventurers, but also as refugees, migrants, tourists, and students of the world. From accounts of personal odysseys to stories of historical or fantastic voyages, the texts studied will raise questions about how children can move through geographical and imaginative space, as well as issues of nation, race and culture.’

To find out more about Travels in Children’s Literature or the MA/PGDip programme, read Judith and Katharina’s reviews below and consider attending the NCRCL Open Day or Virtual Open Day 2015.

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