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.

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

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.

Memory and Rereading: Two Talks by Dr Alison Waller

alisonwaller.jpg__2_ Dr Alison Waller will be presenting her research on rereading at two international conferences this September.

Alison will talk about the relationship between memory and reading at the University of Roehampton’s Memory Network Conference, The Story of Memory, over the 4th-5th September 2014. The Story of Memory Conference: Exploring New Perspectives on the Relationship between Storytelling and Memory in the Twenty-First Century ‘seeks to pose new questions about the relationship between the senses, cognition, memory, and emotion, and to reinvigorate the debate about the return to a critical investigation of story telling in the twenty-first century’.

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At the Canon Constitution and Canon Change in Children’s Literature Conference at the University of Tubingen, Germany, over 11th-13th September 2014, she will talk about how men have remembered and reread Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and what their memories might tell us about gender and canonicity. Her paper is titled ‘Remembering, rereading, and reviewing the canon: The case of The Secret Garden and forgotten fiction’. Secret Garden (1970)

 

 

 

These talks are part of a project been funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, and is part of Alison’s ongoing research investigating the practices and processes of rereading, memory and emotion.

Alison has been a staff member of NCRCL since 2007 and more information about Alison’s work is available on the University of Roehampton website. You can also follow her on Twitter.