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No. 53 Spring/Summer 2007
Letter from the President
At the Kyoto congress we will hold the elections for the new board and I will have finished my term as President of the IRSCL. One of the things we will be doing in Kyoto is announcing plans for our 40th anniversary celebrations, which will take place at the 2009 congress in Frankfurt – chosen because the Society came into being at a colloquium in Frankfurt in 1969.With this in mind, and in the knowledge that we have many new members, I thought this would be a good moment to look back over the history of the IRSCL and some of the figures who have helped shape it. Some of these – Klaus Doderer, Gôte Klingberg, and Jean Perrot – have been made IRSCL Fellows and you can read about them in the newsletters that are archived on the website so I won’t repeat the details here. Instead, I would like to take up the story in 1985, when Anne Scott MacLeod became President, since this marked a turning point in the IRSCL. What follows is only an informal, anecdotal series of fragments. I hope one day a member will decide to write a history of the IRSCL based on the archives that are now in immaculate order in Frankfurt. The 2009 congress will provide many of us with an opportunity to go back through the material they contain and perhaps even bring things to fill in any gaps in our holdings. Again, you can read about the archives on the website.
As I understand it, before 1985 there was much commitment to the subject of children’s literature and pleasure in each others’ company on the part of the founding members, but perhaps little sense of the future. That the Society will shortly be celebrating its 40th anniversary owes much to the work done while Anne Scott MacLeod was President. In recent correspondence she shared some memories with me that I think will be of general interest since many of us working in this age of email, cheap flights and widespread acceptance of children’s literature as an academic discipline may forget why the Society was needed and how time-consuming it was to manage an international organisation.
Anne explained that, “At the first meeting of the new board, we undertook to write some by-laws to govern voting and proxies and such like.” Although some have been amended, we continue to use the original by-laws today: they helped to give the young IRSCL a strong sense of identity and purpose. That board also had to deal with the fact that membership and financial matters needed serious attention. As Anne recalled, “The worst problem was finding a treasurer. Understandably, no one wanted the job….In my second term, Riita Kuivasmakki agreed to serve as treasurer. She was very experienced, very organized and competent and finally got the treasury--small as it was--in order and the membership lists, too. Then we set some simple rules for elections, to avoid the chaos and assure that only paid members voted, with legitimate proxies allowed from other paid members. It all made quite a difference; peace descended and we got to work on other things.”
Anne was full of praise for the board members who organised the meetings in Cologne (1987) and Salamanca (1989). Another former President, Sandra Backett, also recalled Spanish hospitality, this time at the home of then board member Marisol Dorao during Rhonda Bunbury’s presidency while plans were being made for the 1995 congress. More dramatic was the time, during Sandra’s first year as IRSCL President, when the board members were inadvertently locked in a wildlife park after closing time while preparing for the 2001 meeting in South Africa!
One thing that all those I have spoken to stress about the IRSCL is that it was set up as an inclusive body, designed to support individuals and scholarship in all aspects of research in children’s literature. For this reason membership fees are kept very low, and though we try to run the Society professionally, all the work is done by self-financing volunteers. We also have a long-standing commitment to making sure no one is excluded from the Society for financial reasons. This limits to some extent what we can do, but it means that our members come from all over the world and are involved in many kinds of research on a great range of texts and issues. The dynamism of the mixture is always apparent when members come together at congresses and symposia. One such event was the conference organised by our member Ulyana Hnidets in Lviv this April, an account of which follows below.
Anne concluded her reminiscences by reflecting on publications: “Publication was always a thorny issue--so expensive to do, so little market for proceedings or even selections at the price that had to be asked.” The situation has changed little over the years but as I hope all members know through the online message I circulated, we have at last had a major breakthrough. With the help of former board member Ann Lawson Lucas we have agreed a contract with Edinburgh University Press that will enable the IRSCL to have its own journal. Members were polled and more than half responded by the deadline with only two votes against developing this exciting opportunity so we are going ahead. In the following pages and on the website you will find person and job specifications for the positions of Senior Editor, the Congress and Reviews editors together with an invitation to applicants. Those who take up these positions will be making a long-term contribution to the IRSCL and potentially improving our financial situation. If the journal succeeds, we may be able to provide some support for the positions in due course as well as subsidising subscriptions for members and perhaps increasing the number and/or size of the grants we make. At this stage, however, we need experienced and committed colleagues who can dedicate the time to launching the International Review of Children’s Literature (IRCL). There will be a special meeting about the journal at the Kyoto congress; more information appears later in this newsletter.
Also in this newsletter you will find nomination forms for the next board. I hope that you will take the time to think about who could serve the Society well – not forgetting some of our recently retired members, who might have more time to devote to developing activities and publications than those of us who are still managing full institutional workloads. Getting a strong and active board is central to securing the future of the IRSCL. We already have a healthy number of members who have put their names forward but the process is still open. Candidates will post brief statements about themselves and their aims for the Society on the website before the congress where the vote will be held. Please note that there is a proxy voting form with the nomination forms for those who are unable to attend the congress.
My President’s report in Kyoto will give me the opportunity to summarise the developments that have taken place over the last four years, but I would like to end this message by thanking you all for your enthusiasm and support for the work of the IRSCL.
International Research in Children’s Literature
All members were circulated electronically with the following preliminary information about how the new IRSCL journal will work.
Over the last two years Ann Lawson Lucas, in consultation with the IRSCL Board, has discussed with Edinburgh University Press (EUP) the possibility that EUP might publish a journal affiliated with IRSCL. In March 2007 the EUP Press Committee agreed in principle to publish the journal, to be called International Research in Children's Literature (IRCL). The proposal was discussed at the IRSCL Board meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, in April. This briefing paper provides information about the proposed journal and the IRSCL Board's current thinking about how it will be administered. Since this is an important proposal with far-reaching implications for IRSCL, the Board is consulting members for confirmation that this is the right way forward. We also welcome suggestions and comments from members. An initial vote about whether or note to proceed should be sent to Kim Reynolds (Kim.Reynolds@ncl.ac.uk) by 30 June as instructed in the accompanying email.
The journal will be published in English and will emphasise the international scope of the Society. Two issues will be published each year. In every two-year period, three of the four issues will be composed of the best of the IRSCL Congress papers, reworked as essays. The fourth issue might be devoted to a particular topic, or might consist of commissioned essays. Each issue will comprise between 5 and 7 essays, as well as reviews of books in the field. All submissions will be refereed by members of a representative, international Editorial Committee drawn from IRSCL membership. If members vote in favour of proceeding with the journal, the first issue will be published in April, 2008 and the second in October, 2008. Issues 3 and 4 will be published, respectively, in April and October, 2009.
The IRSCL Board would be responsible for overseeing the journal. The Board would appoint the Senior Editor for a term of six years, and the Congress Editor, whose term would last three years and who would work with the Senior Editor on the publications arising from a particular Congress. If there is a YES vote, a subcommittee of the Board will prepare a Position Description for the Senior Editor and will invite applications from IRSCL members. The Editor will then appoint the Editorial Committee and the Congress Editor in consultation with the IRSCL Board. One IRSCL Board member will sit on the Editorial Committee, and the Editor will report to the IRSCL Board regularly.
Members will be encouraged to take out a subscription to the journal in conjunction with their IRSCL membership, or may opt to take out IRSCL membership without subscribing to the journal.
Edinburgh University Press
EUP has been a reputable publisher of scholarly publications for almost 60 years, and has a list of over thirty journals (www.eup.ed.ac.uk). Its marketing department promotes journals via the internet, direct mailing, advertising and displays at conferences. In January 2008, EUP will launch EDINBURGH ONLINE, so that IRCL will be published electronically as well as in hard copy. EUP will hold regular meetings with the Senior Editor, Congress Editor and members of the IRSCL Board as appropriate. EUP will carry out copy-editing of essays and return proofs to the Editor and authors. EUP will be responsible for printing, distributing and marketing IRCL.
EUP wishes to take out a ten-year contract to publish IRCL. As this is a new journal EUP asks for a contribution from the Society to the production costs for the first two years. If we proceed, this contribution will be £2000 over two years, and can be paid as the IRSCL Board determines: for instance, a contribution of £1000 in 2008 and 2009; or a quarterly contribution of £500 per issue. By the third year IRCL will be established and EUP will then offer the Society a 10% annual royalty based on income from sales of the journal, provided the number of subscriptions is greater than 250 in each year from year three onwards.
EUP will pay all costs relating to the marketing, distribution and subscription collection of IRCL. From year three onwards EUP will pay all production costs. EUP will provide annual accounts of subscriber numbers and royalties. Royalties will be paid by 31 May each year. In consultation with the Society EUP will set a competitive price for the first year and will aim to keep price increases low year-on-year. EUP will agree pricing with the Society each year for institutional, individual, member and conference attendee rates.
Since that information was circulated, Pam Knights, Ann Lawson Lucas and Kim Reynolds have met with Edinburgh University Press and agreed a timetable and set of offers to members. Members will NOT be required to subscribe as part of the membership package. Full details will be circulated electronically and at the congress.
It is now time to start developing our plans by filling the leading positions. Unfortunately at this stage the IRSCL is not in a position to offer any financial incentives for undertaking the work, though we believe that by the end of year 2 the situation will be different. Appropriate forms of assistance and compensation can be considered at that stage. There are three key roles that need to be filled immediately. Position descriptions are set out below. Those who are interested should send a letter of application (maximum of 2 pages) and a brief curriculum vitae (maximum of 6 pages) to Kim.Reynolds@ncl.ac.uk copied to PtrRynlds@aol.com by 31 July. The position of Congress Editor must be held by a member of the board who is involved in organising the congress on which 3 issues in the biennial cycle of publications are based. The current board is grateful to Pam Knights for agreeing to undertake this task. The position description for this role below is therefore for information only.
Senior Editor, International Research in Children's Literature
International Research in Children's Literature is the new journal of the International Research Society of Children's Literature, to be published by Edinburgh University Press (EUP). The journal will be published in English but emphasises the international scope of the Society. Two issues will be published each year. In every two-year period, three of the four issues will largely be composed of the best of the relevant IRSCL Congress papers, reworked as essays. The fourth issue will be devoted to a particular topic, and may contain commissioned essays. Each issue will consist of between five and seven essays, as well as reviews of books in the field. All submissions will be refereed by members of an Editorial Committee drawn from IRSCL membership. The Congress Editor will have responsibility for three issues, normally over a term of two years. The Reviews Editor will normally have a term of four years which may be renewed.
Scope of Position
The Senior Editor of the journal International Research in Children's Literature will be responsible for overseeing the production of the journal (two issues annually), liaising with Congress Editor, members of the Editorial Committee, and with Edinburgh University Press. S/he will report to the IRSCL Board on the progress of the journal and any issues which arise. The term of the Senior Editor will normally be six years.
Duties of the Senior Editor
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