Curating National Children’s Literatures

Guest editors: Karen Sands-O’Connor, Lucy Pearson and Aishwarya Subramanian
This special issue seeks to examine the curation of ‘national’ children’s literatures: how are national canons created and sustained? How is the notion of a national literature defined, and which voices are included?
The term ‘national’, like ‘classic’ and ‘canonical’, confers prestige, but in doing so creates a hierarchy of values which frequently privileges the voices of a dominant group above all others.  Indeed, ideas of ‘nationhood’ are frequently predicated on ideas of exclusion as much as inclusion. Because the reifying of children’s literature means longer shelf-life, sales, and interest, such curation of a nation’s children’s literature matters. The contemporary increase in global migration, shifting international relationships, and the growing prominence of isolationist and nationalist movements around the world suggest that now is a useful moment to focus on the question of national children’s literatures. How are such canons compiled, and who has a stake in the creation, promotion, and maintenance of the idea of a national children’s literature? Which voices dominate, and how might more heterogeneous national literatures be curated?
Taking a broad view of ‘curation’ as practiced across publishing, education, awards and prizes, and other cultural fields as well as by museums and archives, we invite abstracts for papers on the curation of national children’s literatures. We particularly welcome papers that consider how or if non-majority groups within a nation find space/place within the national conversation about children’s literature, and papers which consider how new national literatures are formed in countries which have historically lacked a strong indigenous children’s literature.
Abstracts due: 1 January 2019; completed papers to press 1 April 2019, publication July 2019.
New feature, launching in IRCL 12.1 and replacing the regular feature ‘Palimpsestuous Intertextualities’
Regular feature on African children’s literature
Feature editor: Judith Inggs
IRCL positioned itself from its inception as an international journal of children’s literature. It has therefore sought to be inclusive and to resist the dominance of Western children’s literature, ensuring representation from other countries and regions. John Stephens highlighted the unevenness of academic research into children’s literature and its concentration in certain countries in his editorial piece in 2016 (9.1 v–ix). A special feature on children’s literature research in Africa is intended to rectify this imbalance and to raise awareness of the journal among African scholars. Africa is a very large continent, with fifty-four separate nations, and it is clearly impossibly to regard its literature for children as necessarily sharing common features or reflecting a homogenous idea of ‘Africa’ as a continent. Much existing literature reflects the predominance of issues of pedagogy and literacy; this feature seeks to solicit submissions with a greater focus on literary criticism without prescribing the topics or scope of articles. Submissions will be actively sought through as many networks as possible by the circulation of calls for papers and by targeting scholars at African universities and institutions of higher education. Given the large number of francophone countries on the continent, we will consider articles in both French and English (although articles in French will be translated into English if accepted for publication).
Abstracts for volume number 12.1 due 1 January 2019; completed papers to press 1 April 2019; publication July 2019. All abstracts and questions should be directed to Judith Inggs: <>

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