2003 isscl conference: abstracts of papers

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ISSCL 1st Annual Conference

St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra (DCU)

9-11 May 2003
Ann Alston

‘Colonialisation of food: Apple Pie or Turkish Delight?’
Sandra L Beckett

‘“Artists” Books for a Cross Audience’
Anne-Marie Bird

‘Inhabiting the Liminal Space: Adolescence and the Postmodern Condition in some Chambers and Burgess novels’
Margaret Burke

‘National Identity in Patricia Lynch’s Writing’
Sebastien Chapleau

‘A Theory without a Centre: Developing Childist Criticism’
Anne De Vries

‘Just a Mother Singing to her Child?’
Robert Dunbar

‘Rebuilding Castle Blair: a reading of Shaw's 1878 children’s novel’
Carole Dunbar

‘The Wild Irish Girl in selected novels of De Horne Vaizey and Meade’
Mary Flynn

‘The Talbot Press and its contribution to Children's Literature’
Howard Hollands & Victoria de Rijke

‘Motifs and Motives in Velthuijs’s Picturebooks’
Declan Kiberd

‘School Stories’
Lindsay Myers

‘Influence of post-war Italian socio-politics on the structure of Italian children’s fantasy 1945-1955’
Ciara Ní Bhroin

‘Forging a National Identity; Heroism in the Adventure Stories of Eilis Dillon – A Postcolonial Perspective’
Áine Nic Gabhann

‘The Voyeur’
Jane O'Hanlon

‘Fantasy as a Gendered Genre: The Hero in the 21st Century’
Emer O'Sullivan

‘Distin(c)t Voices: The language of Irish children's literature in translation’
Amanda Piesse

‘What did Renaissance children read?’
Kimberley Reynolds

‘Alchemy and Alco Pops: Adolescent Agency in Young Adult Fiction’
David Rudd

‘The Golliwogg: Genealogy of a non-PC icon’
Debbie Thacker

‘Robert Frost and Edward Thomas: Poets’ Stories’
Pádraic Whyte

‘Wars of Independence: The construction of Irish histories in the work of Gerard Whelan and Siobhan Parkinson”

2003 ISSCL conference: abstracts of papers
Colonialisation of food: Apple Pie or Turkish Delight?

ANN ALSTON in her second year of part-time study for a PhD at Cardiff University. Her PhD is concerned with aspects of family in children's literature from 1818 -2000. She has recently completed her first chapter, which is concerned with the family meal, and it is here that the paper concerning obesity and the colonialisation of food in children's fiction originates.
Children’s literature with regard to obesity is far from politically correct. While the media and teenage magazines are often blamed for cases of anorexia in young people, it is in fact, firmly rooted within children’s literature. In children’s literature heroes and heroines are, on the whole, always thin, while the chubbier characters make up the villains, the victims and the downright ugly; they are firmly cast as others. To be fat, in children’s literature is to be gluttonous, to be gluttonous emphasises a lack of control, in turn a lack of control with regards to food is reminiscent of the Fall of Eve. Obese child characters in literature highlight an emerging sexuality and impurity in children, thus middle-class children’s fiction will not allow its heroes and heroines to be impure. Indeed, the type of food consumed is also of a great concern, for the bad fat children are lead into temptation as they eat sweet sensual food, whereas the children in Blyton and Ransome are encouraged to eat lashings of fruit pie because it is traditional British food; they are seen to be embracing a national heritage. There is then, no political correctness with regards to food in children’s fiction for it is both ‘fattist’ and nationalistic, as it maintains its middle class stigmas.
The Exploration of Irish National Identity in the works of Patricia Lynch

MARGARET BURKE is completing an MA in Children’s Literature in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. Her dissertation focuses on the writings of Patricia Lynch. At present she works as a resource teacher for travellers in Blanchardstown.
This paper will outline the sources of material and general background information, and in particular will give information on data in the National Library of Ireland archive as yet uncatalogued. My exploration of the historical context of Lynch’s indicates the cultural, historical and political background to her writings and also puts them in the contemporary Irish literary context. Close readings of texts will attend to historical, political and autobiographical aspects of her work, will isolate her central preoccupations and indicate how her work evolved and developed over her writing lifetime.

Artists’ Books for a Cross Audience

SANDRA BECKETT is professor of French at Brock University (Canada) and the current president of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. She is the author of several books on contemporary French literature and the editor of Reflections of Change: Children’s Literature Since 1945 (1997) and Transcending Boundaries: Writing for a Dual Audience of Children and Adults (1999). Her most recent book is Recycling Red Riding Hood (Routledge, 2002). She is currently writing a book on crossover literature.
Contemporary picture books challenge the conventions, codes, and norms that traditionally governed the genre. The innovative picture books that will be examined in this paper challenge the boundaries not only of the picture book, but of the book itself. The artists Bruno Munari, Warja Lavater, and Katsumi Komagata are interested in the book as a three dimensional object. Their intriguing and innovative experiments with format and design have resulted in picture books that are also art objects and are often termed ‘artists’ books’ for children, although they appeal to a cross audience of all ages.
The multi-talented Italian artist, Bruno Munari, whom Picasso called ‘the new Leonardo’, began his career as a Futurist artist, experimenting with a wide variety of techniques and materials. The daring innovation that marks all his books is particularly evident in those he targeted at children, the first of which appeared in 1945. His highly original books include what he calls the libro-gioco (game-book), libri illeggibili (illegible books), libri-oggetto (object-book), and prelibri (prebooks, 1980).

The Swiss artist, Warja Lavater, is best known for the series of imageries based on Perrault’s fairy tales that she began publishing in the 1960s. These mobile and versatile works, which Lavater herself referred to as “radical” books, seem to herald the trend that Eliza Dresang would describe thirty-five years later in Radical Change. In actual fact, Lavater does not consider them books at all, but rather “book-objects” or even sculptures. She has experimented with a variety of innovative formats, including what she calls the modulated-book, the standing-book, and the mural book.
Katsumi Komagata is a Japanese artist who started his own company, One Stroke, in Tokyo to publish his innovative books. He began creating books for children when his first child was born, in the hope that they would expand children’s imagination, but his “three dimensional action books” target a cross audience.

The innovative picture books of these artists have a universal language that appeals to all ages and cultures. In the current high tech ‘image’ age of television, cinema, computer and video games, perhaps these crossover artists’ books offer one survival strategy for the book.
Inhabiting the Liminal Space: Adolescence and the Postmodern Condition in a selection of novels by Aidan Chambers, Melvin Burgess and Philip Pullman

ANNE-MARIE BIRD is a PhD student at Bolton Institute, where she teaches in Education. She is also a part-time lecturer in the Department of Cultural Studies at The University of Central Lancashire. Her recent publications include articles on Roald Dahl’s The Witches and on Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy.
Critics who venture into the field of contemporary adolescent fiction are often preoccupied with its implied audience. Consequently, studies of this relatively new genre tend to focus exclusively on its potential psychological ‘function’ and its possible pedagogical applications. This results in readings that view the adolescent novel as no more than a straightforward rites-of-passage narrative, as a children’s book with added sex and violence, or as a bridge between children’s and adults’ literature. What these rather reductive approaches neglect to address is the resistance of this genre to any definitive categorisation based on its implied readership.

For instance, Aidan Chambers describes his work as ‘difficult’ and as ‘balancing on the edge of what can be considered literature for young people.’1 Similarly, Melvin Burgess’s Bloodtide seems uncertain of its implied audience: reviewers generally regard it as too violent, too sexually explicit and totally lacking a clear moral framework

With reference to a selection of texts by these authors, this paper will examine the ways in which their writing vicariously inhabits and exploits the indeterminate space between childhood and adulthood, and argues that the cross-generational appeal of their work can be more productively explored in relation to Turner’s concept of the liminal space – a ‘no-man’s-land... a fructile chaos, a fertile nothingness… the realm of pure possibility…’2 – and the postmodern terrain – the undefined and provisional borders of the outer landscapes and inner ‘mindscapes’ – inhabited by the protagonists.

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