1st October 2009 at 4:24 pm #5527Alexandra CuncevParticipant
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
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
Monica Soeting (firstname.lastname@example.org). The
deadline for abstracts is 1 November, 2009.
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