CALL FOR PAPERS: CFP: Writing for Young Readers ? An International Conference on Writers of Children’s Books, Biography and Canon

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    Alexandra Cuncev

    CFP: Writing for Young Readers ? An International Conference on Writers of
    Children’s Books, Biography and Canon

    Dr. Monica Soeting (?Biografie Bulletin’, Utrecht University, The
    Dr. Nina von Zimmermann (Pädagogische Hochschule Bern, Switzerland)

    Canonically speaking, it is no exaggeration to state that children’s books
    belong to the lower ranks of literature, with books for girls arguably on
    the lowest step of the ladder. The status of an author of children’s books
    can be measured according to this canonical hierarchy. Within the
    traditional biographical canon this means that biographies of writers of
    children’s books, especially of female writers of books for girls, more
    often than not will be disregarded as trivial books about the lives of
    trivial authors. This has ideological as well as practical consequences.
    Most authors of children’s books will not make it to the biographical
    canon, and their biographers must be prepared to work without financial or
    institutional support.

    Most writers of books for children and young adults have suffered under the
    underestimation of their skills and the impact of their books. ‘Only my
    colleagues know’, wrote An Rutgers van der Loeff-Basenau, a Dutch author of
    children’s books, ‘how difficult it is to put the complexity of our
    observations into simple, easy to understand sentences, without making them
    too simplistic.’ Biographers of authors of children’s books will have to
    face the problem that their subjects, being aware of their lowly status,
    have developed strategies to cope with the fact that they were not
    considered literary authors. They may have downplayed their success as
    authors, claiming, for example, that they would have preferred to write
    books for adults, but that their publishers, audience or friends had pushed
    them into continuing to write children’s books. This strategy seems to be
    prevalent among female writers of books for girls and seems to have rubbed
    off on some of their biographers.

    Considering the skills it takes to write a good children’s book, and the
    positive effect children’s books can have, and have had, on the social,
    intellectual and creative development of their readers, the
    auto/biographies of their writers deserve more scholarly attention than
    they have received so far.

    In order to identify issues encountered in writing biographies of authors
    of children’s books, a conference will be organised on 28 & 29 May 2010 by
    the Pädagogische Hochschule Bern, Switzerland. Special attention will be
    given to the definition of canonical status of both children’s books and
    biographies of their writers.
    A proposal for an edited book, based on the papers presented at the
    conference, will be considered.

    We would like to invite you to participate in this conference and ask you
    to send us your proposals for
    papers. As the conference aims to stimulate discussion between conference
    participants, papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length.

    We invite papers on the following topics:
    * The status of children’s books and their writers in connection with
    the literary canon.
    * Auto/biographies of authors of children’s books in general, and
    auto/biographies of female authors in particular.
    * Authors of children’s books and the biogragraphical canon.

    Papers and proposals may be written and presented in English or German.

    Please send your abstract (300 words per paper) with a short cv to both
    Nina von Zimmermann
    ( and
    Monica Soeting ( The
    deadline for abstracts is 1 November, 2009.

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