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.

NCRCL PhD Day 2017

Rebecca Sutton, PhD student with the NCRCL, reports on her experience of our 2017 PhD Day, which she organised this year.

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Illustration by Anne Malewski

The annual NCRCL PhD Day went ahead on Thursday 18th May in the pristine new Elm Grove Conference Centre at the University of Roehampton. It was a day of eight stimulating presentations by current PhD students and one soon-to-be PhD student. Here is an overview of the presentations, in the running order of the day, so you can get an idea of our current research projects:

  • Rebecca Sutton: “Inside/Outside: Contested Space in Young Adult Literature set in Israel/Palestine”
  • Sarah Pyke: “An “archive of me”: Constructing queer adult subjectivity through an oral history of adolescent reading”
  • Aliona Yarova: “Narrating Humanity: Children’s Literature and Global Citizenship Education”
  • Erica Gillingham: “Princesses and Hard Core Lady-Types Fall In Love: Pictorial Representations of Same-Sex Attraction in All Ages Comics”
  • Sinéad Moriarty: “P-P-P Pick up a Penguin: Antarctic Penguin Stories for Children”
  • Manuela Salvi: “The Secret School of the Mooning Guerrillas: a Creative Project on Children’s Fiction, Age Banding and Censorship”
  • Anne Malewski: “Playing Adults: Camp Wildfire and KidZania”
  • Emily Corbett: “Transgendered Identity and Bio-Social Determinism in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction”

It was exciting to share our research with each other and to see the sheer diverse nature of the research projects that we as the NCRCL research community are conducting, and to observe the passion, creativity, and academic rigor with which each project is being undertaken.  I felt very proud to be part of such an innovative and inspiring research group.

It was especially great to welcome Aliona Yarova who, working between Sweden and the UK, came all the way from Sweden to present her research, and two new students starting with us this autumn – Emily Corbett (recipient of the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship) and Harriet Salisbury (recipient of a TECHNE Studentship).

The theme for the third NCRCL Bake-off was ‘Food in Children’s Literature’. There were Google Buns from The Magic Faraway Tree, Seed Cake from Swallows and Amazons, Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake and Honey Cakes for Miss Honey from Matilda, and finally Carrot Cake from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. Alison Waller and Lisa Sainsbury were the judges and prizes were awarded for: Best Reflection of Theme, Best Taste and Best Presentation.

It was a great day for both academia and for baking! I can’t wait until next year.

Rebecca Sutton is a first-year PhD student at the NCRCL. Her research is centered around contested space and identity in Young Adult Literature set in Israel/Palestine.

Photographs taken by Rebecca Sutton.

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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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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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.

Alumni Q&A: Helen Swinyard’s Library Epiphany

We caught up with Helen Swinyard who completed the MA in Children’s Literature at the NCRCL in 2003. Through the MA, Helen discovered that being a school librarian is an exciting way to pursue her love of children’s literature.

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Helen Swinyard speaking at the Haringey Children’s Book Award which she set up. In the background: authors Philip Womack and 2016 winner SF Said.


What led you to the NCRCL?

I had friends from school studying their undergraduate courses at Roehampton (it was the University of Surrey Roehampton then) and I remember visiting them a couple of times and walking past the NCRCL on campus and thinking ‘what’s that?’ I thought it sounded like an exciting place.

I had always enjoyed reading as a child and wanted to be a writer when I ‘grew up’. So even though the demands of secondary school meant I didn’t read that much, I always wanted to read English at university level. However, during my undergrad degree I had a first year set course and then had second year modules I didn’t really enjoy – the experience wasn’t what I had anticipated at all. Finally when I was completing my degree I suddenly rekindled my love of reading and analysing, and luckily had the chance to carry straight into an MA as I didn’t want it to end! The NCRCL was top of my list.

What did you most enjoy and take from the MA?

It was a real indulgence for me at the time to spend a full year immersing myself in children’s literature and surrounding myself with others who love that world as much as I do. After 3 years of studying general English literature, and having to read things that didn’t really interest me, that year helped me regain my love of reading.

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Illustrating Marvellous Imaginations

The 23rd annual IBBY/NCRCL MA Conference took place on 5 November 2016 at the University of Roehampton. This year’s theme was ‘Marvellous Imaginations – Extending thinking through picture books’. This week on the NCRCL blog, alumni and current NCRCL students will be reporting on various aspects of the conference, including the speakers, panellists and parallel sessions.

Illustrating Marvellous Imaginations

During this conference, people were not just taking notes, asking questions about picturebooks, and discussing marvellous imaginations: Laura Davis and Emma Dunmore were also illustrating the conference proceedings.

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