(Note from the blog administrator: This is the first installment of our look back at the children’s literature panels and events at the English Graduate Organization’s annual conference on October 28 and 29. Look for part two this afternoon, and parts three and four on Thursday!)
By Mariko Turk
Children’s literature and culture had a great showing at this year’s EGO conference. The Children’s Culture Reading Group put together two excellent panels, featuring papers that covered quite a bit of ground. From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to YouTube, the panels provided a peek into the wide-ranging world of children’s literature studies.
Friday’s panel was entitled “Experimentation and Transformation in Children’s Texts,” and featured four pretty amazing UF PhD students: presenters Michele Lee, NaToya Faughnder, and Casey Wilson, and moderator Emily Murphy.
Michele Lee started things off by examining cross-cultural representations of girlhood in her paper, “Manifestations of Jo March in Modern Japanese Shoujo Culture.” Michele investigated girlhood as it is portrayed in contemporary Japanese manga series (such as Sailor Moon) and made some fascinating connections to Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century American classic of girlhood, Little Women. By considering the iconic Jo March as well as the popular girls of Sailor Moon, Michele’s paper prompted the audience to re-examine familiar notions of girlhood.
NaToya Faughnder’s paper, “Moving Pictures,” posed a timely question: what might be lost in the shift from printed children’s books to digital ones? To think through this question, NaToya examined books that invite the child reader’s physical interaction with illustrations (asking young readers to literally move the pictures). She also gave us a look at some new, digital manifestations of old classics (Peter Rabbit on the iPad!). NaToya’s gorgeous Prezi gave the audience a wonderful look at these moving pictures and the creative, frame-breaking reading experiences they offer.
Casey Wilson continued the discussion of digital texts in her presentation, “Paper Books and Virtual Towns: Transtexts and Online Community.” Casey engaged with and challenged Kimberley Reynolds’s ideas about “transtexts” and “transliterate readers” (see Radical Children’s Literature: Future Visions and Aesthetic Transformations in Juvenile Literature, 2007) in her examination of young adult author and YouTube vlogger John Green, and the community of young, creative readers growing up around him. Casey provided an exciting portrait of these young, digitally savvy, imaginative, and community-minded readers who are currently redefining what it means to read.
Fantastic work, everybody!
Mariko is a first-year PhD student, who specializes in children’s literature and being awesome.