On and Around Campus

Grimmfest!

By Casey Wilson

If you’re looking for something to do this evening, might I suggest that you attend Maria Tatar’s talk here on campus as part of Grimmfest? Her talk is titled “Mythical and Magical: 200 Years of the Brothers Grimm” and will take place in Smathers Library East, room 1A at 7:00 PM. You can check out all the information here on the website for the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture.

Casey is a PhD student.

Categories: On and Around Campus

2012 EGO Conference: “Borders and Beyond: Considering Communities”

By Casey Wilson

A break from our usual fare today, because I want to take the time to promote this year’s English Graduate Organization Conference, which will be held October 11-13. The theme is “Borders and Beyond: Considering Communities,” and we have a lot of really great papers and projects being shared throughout the conference. Saturday afternoon will bring guest speaker Catherine Tosenberger, who graduated from UF not too long ago, where she was one of our fellow children’s lit scholars. And our keynote speaker is Kristina Busse, whose talk will explore the question of originality in “transformative fanworks.” More information about them and the schedule as a whole can be found on our website, which we encourage you to check out!

As you’ll see below, each day also has a panel dedicated to children’s literature and culture, which I encourage everyone to come check out! All panels will be held in Pugh 210.

Thursday, October 11:

4:00-5:15: Constructed Communities in Children’s Literature

Moderator: Casey Wilson

Rebecca McNulty: Ella Enchanted: Agency of Adaptation in a Cinderella Story

Alyssa Hunziker: Harry Potter: Social Stereotypes in Constructed Communities

Mary Roca: The Hunger Games: Inspiring Rebellion vs. the Search for Self-Identity

 

Friday, October 12:

2:30-3:45: Between Children and Adults

Moderator: Anuja Madan

Rebekah Fitzsimmons: Experts on Children’s Literature: Communities without Children

Stephanie Evers: Man or Muppet?: The Liminal Mediation of The Muppets

 

Saturday, October 13:

12:45-2:00: Fiction, Fandom, and Utopia

Moderator: Kayley Thomas

Mary Stephens: In a (Im)Perfect World: Sexual Utopias/Dystopias in Boy Meets Boy and Freak Show

Asmaa Ghonim: We’re Not in Hogwarts Anymore: The Cult of Interconnected Hogwartian Webs, H. Potter Nostalgia, and Us

Alexandra Edwards: In the shadow of no fourth wall: RPF fan communities and the public articulation of a queer utopia

Categories: Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

Lately with the CCRG

By Casey Wilson

I admit, I’ve been negligent about keeping the blog updated with the activities of the Children’s Culture Reading Group. That changes today!

Last month, we had a lovely discussion about the various forms of Alice in Wonderland. Ranging from the original texts to Disney’s marketing of the Tim Burton film to Spirited Away, we tried to reason out why it is that Alice maintains such a hold on the children’s literature world — and the world at large. We couldn’t solve the puzzle entirely in a solitary hour, but we did arrive at a tenuous conclusion that the story has become larger than its origins, growing closer to a fairy tale that lends itself to many and varied interpretations. (A notion supported by the post-CCRG-meeting announcement that there would be an Alice-centric episode of Once Upon a Time.)

This month, we will be taking a broad view of young adult literature with a simple assignment: come ready to discuss at least one young adult novel released last year. By comparing what will surely be a wide range of choices, given our many and varied interests, we will hopefully be able to make some interesting connections and spot some thematic trends worth discussing. This meeting will be on Saturday; if you’re a UF grad who wants to join us, just let us know and we’ll get you the details.

As for March, let us just say that there’s little film called The Hunger Games coming out…

Casey is a PhD student.

Categories: CCRG, Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

CFP: “Monsters in the Margins”

[Blog Administrator’s note: I have been asked to post this specifically to encourage submissions from children’s lit folks! Get to it!]

UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels (10th Anniversary Event!)

The first UF conference on Comics and Graphic Novels was held in 2002. We ask that you come join us to celebrate our conference’s anniversary at “Monsters in the Margins,” which will be held on April 13-15.

In any crisis, whether economic or cultural, there is a sense of an unimaginable danger right around the corner. These unknown and unfathomable terrors fascinate the imagination and dramatically play out our anxieties in a more cognitively relatable form—we attempt to embody them, to transplant them, or to make them somehow tangible—yet the underlying terror persists. The narratives and mediums we channel our terrors into become our monsters.

In the midst of the first true economic crisis of the 21st century, we return to these sites with renewed curiosity. How can we depict the sublime terror of our anxieties? How can we convey our unabashed horror through image and text, and communicate those feelings? Why do we keep trying to re-imagine the same monstrous templates, especially when the tools of a craft are perpetually unable to represent the unimaginable?

The 9th University of Florida Comics Conference hopes to address these issues by welcoming any and all explorations into the representation of monsters and the monstrous in a visual/textual form. We are especially interested in how text augments the imaginative image (or vice versa) and approaches horror in ways that help the conscious mind endure and (hopefully) resolve the trauma that the unknown antagonizes within us. From traditional genres to new horizons of horror, we seek to examine the monsters of media and attempt to understand how the medium influences the message.

The “monsters” in our conference’s title are open for interpretation. Presentations do not need to address the literal representation/illustration of monsters (e.g. zombies, vampires and werewolves, oh my!), but they should address the presence (or absence) of the monstrous, traumatic or unsettling.

Submissions should maintain a focus on comics, manga, children’s literature, video games, imaging technology or any other form that includes both image and text in its representations (either simultaneously or indirectly). Continue reading

Categories: CFP, Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

EGO Conference Retrospective, Part Four

(Note from the blog administrator: This is the last in a series looking back at the children’s literature related events at the English Graduate Organization’s annual conference. The first three parts can be found in the archives. Today we are proud to present two responses to the keynote address by Dr. Richard Flynn, both written by undergraduates.)

By De-Lyn Williams

Richard Flynn’s keynote speech, “My Folk Revival”, incorporated an autobiographical approach to cultural history, especially in regards to childhood and adolescence and the ways they were expressed in music and perceived in American society. He voiced his own memories of highly political events like Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and assassination, as well as personal events such as his experience with songs like “Little Boxes”, social gatherings, and family life. In relation to our class’s studies, [Editor’s note: Williams is enrolled in Literature for the Adolescent this semester.] I found several pertinent connections: music, peer relationships, and the idea of “double consciousness.”

In the lecture, Flynn was highly focused on music in his own life as well as the influences of music on popular culture, and he quoted (musically) the lyrics of such artists as The Beatles, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Flynn mentioned these lyrics from “Sugar Mountain” by Neil Young:

Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain
Though you’re thinking that
You’re leaving there too soon,
You’re leaving there too soon.

I believe that, in part, exemplifies a bit of the nostalgia an adult feels when looking back into his or her youth, and  he mentioned with “double consciousness” in which a child may enjoy what is playful and childish while also recognizing it is so (recognizing the difference in the way adults view the world and them). In support of that, Flynn mentioned that he understood the full meaning of “Little Boxes” as satirical of the standardized American ideal that made everyone “just the same” when he himself was only eight or nine years old. In class discussions, we have often tried to look at the perspective of protagonists in adolescent texts to figure out exactly how much young people are (and can be) aware of in their society. For instance, the class was interested in Nilda and whether or not young Nilda truly comprehended “adult” situations (like the prostitution scene) while also arguing that the book should be censored because children “won’t be able to handle it.” While “Little Boxes” and Nilda’s prostitution scene aren’t exactly alike, I think there is something to be said for the capacity of a child and/or adolescent to understand and cope with life being undermined by certain brands of criticism (protect the children, etc.). In my opinion, they can, and Flynn would—at least part—agree with that conclusion.

Flynn spoke of the Kingston Trio as a group that his parents allowed him to see because they thought the band was a “harmless” influence to their young son. The Kingston Trio were “moral gatekeepers” and “rockless” as his parents said, and during the time period in which he saw them (1960s) there was a lot of anxiety about “rock n’ roll” as detrimental to youth (provoking poor juvenile behavior and gangs). Such criticisms were seen in “Coming of Age in Buffalo”, and (as we discussed in class) there was a lot of fear of the “animalistic”, “rock n’ roll” youth which was portrayed well in the movie Blackboard Jungle. Presumably, Flynn’s parents were afraid that he would become like those violent, incorrigible boys through “bad” music and its cultural influences (progressiveness).

Flynn also spoke of his days in the 1970s in which his father kept him “occupied”; He felt alienated from his dysfunctional family, so he sought out a group of “lost boys and girls” who provided a surrogate family to replace his own. Therefore, he raised the value of peer relationships above family relationships. This is a particularly recurring theme in our readings such as the Outsiders and Freedom Writers (though it vacillates between “superficial” and “deep” peer relationships). In either regard, it is apparent that it is the peers who seem to make the parents in Flynn’s lecture (as well as our class discussions) while parents are frequently out of the picture or entirely negative. All of this evidence stands in line with Zuckerman’s arguments from the beginning of class.

Flynn’s lecture was insightful with his own personal experiences with music and growing into an American adult while also touching on many generalized ideas of nostalgia (restorative and reflective), “double consciousness”, and ideas of the child in relation to historical and political events.

De-Lyn Williams is an undergraduate at the University of Florida. This response was written for Marilisa Jimenez’s Literature for Adolescents course. It is shared with permission of the author.

Categories: Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

EGO Conference Retrospective, Part Three

(Note from the blog administrator: This is the third in our series looking back on the English Graduate Organization’s annual conference. The first two entries in the series can be found in the archives, and the fourth will post later this afternoon. Today we are proud to feature two responses to the keynote by Dr. Richard Flynn, both written by undergraduates at the University of Florida.)

By Paul Krebs

Dr. Richard Flynn’s address was entitled “My Folk Revival: Childhood, Politics, and Popular Music” and it did a brilliant job on examining the intersection of music and politics in the 60’s and 70’s. In all honesty, there were parts of this speech that were over my head, in large part because some of his examples and references involved having an extensive knowledge of people and the ideas of that generation.

Nevertheless, Dr. Flynn’s speech was influential and left me thinking after its conclusion. Flynn argued that children’s texts invite children to view their life in a nostalgic way, creating a sort of “double consciousness” that he says reminds him of how he felt during his childhood. In fact, a large part of his speech incorporates his life story, growing up in a rural town in Illinois and then moving to the DC area. Music was a large part of his life, and his experiences writing and playing songs at a local coffee shop influenced him greatly. Even in his early teen years, he would write songs about his lost youth and nostalgia, and he parallels this to the messages in children’s literature. He references artists like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Phil Ochs as being “icons” to him at the time because of their message and topical songs such as “Blowing in the Wind” and “Times They Are A Changin’”. As a teenager growing up in these times of political strife with the JFK/MLK assassination, Vietnam War, and March on Washington, folk music helped him channel his anger about what was happening in the country and lead to social outlets. He explained how he would regularly play his guitar by the “peace cross” outside his Catholic school and he developed a group of friends sharing his views and beliefs. He described his social group as “passionate individuals, loving of politics and drama who were brought together by music”

In his brief musical interlude, he played a song entitled “Little Boxes”. Even though he never really elaborated on the creation of this song, based on the lyrics it is clear what the meaning was about. The basis of the song is about conformity, serving as a commentary on how people simply grow up and are placed in “little boxes that are all the same”. This contrasts with the youth movement and the message of folk music at the time. As I was listening to Dr. Flynn speak, a song by Phil Ochs popped into my head that represented the opposite of the “Little Boxes” song. It is entitled “Another Age” and in the sing Ochs sings how “We were born in a revolution and we died in a wasted war.” The war is a reference to Vietnam and I believe this is the message that Flynn was attempting to bring across.

All in all, Dr. Flynn’s memoir did a wonderful job of examining the relationship of folk, politics, and youth, and it made me appreciate even more the music that I have always grown up listening to. It made me realize that I have never really understood the social context and meaning of the lyrics to the extent that I do now.

Paul Krebs is a freshman at the University of Florida, currently registered as an exploratory major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He wrote this response for Casey Wilson’s section of ENC1102: Rhetoric and Academic Research. It is shared by permission of the author.

Categories: Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

EGO Conference Retrospective, Part Two

(Note from the blog administrator: This is the second entry in our look back at the children’s literature panels and events at the English Graduate Organization’s annual conference on October 28 and 29. Part one is already up, with parts three and four to follow on Thursday.)

By Casey Wilson

The last panel of the EGO Conference, like its predecessor the day before, featured members of the Children’s Culture Reading Group. I had the pleasure of moderating the panel, called “Contextual (Re)Visions of Children’s Literature”, for a standing-room only crowd.

Rebekah Fitzsimmons (the co-president of EGO herself!) gave the first paper, called “Intimate Text: Novelty Through Typeface in Octavian Nothing and The Knife of Never Letting Go“. She explored the ways that these two texts, which are marked by striking differences in genre, theme, and setting, echo each other through their inventive use of typeface. Both of of these novels break up the traditional flow of the text with overwhelming transformations of typography, and Rebekah presented a fascinating analysis of the role of these design choices in developing the reader’s experience of the stories.

We then transitioned into Mariko Turk’s paper, titled “Let’s Talk About Accessories!: Rereading American Girl’s Accessorizing of History”. Mariko offered a compelling argument about the relationship between the American Girl novels and their merchandizing, noting that by selling innocuous items like nightgowns and books to go with their dolls, the company effectively directs their young readers’ attention away from the darker side of the historical periods on display.

The final paper came from Kendra Holmes, who read “Children’s Literature: What’s So Childish About It?: Broken Psyches, Re-envisioned Identities, and Alternative-Histories in the Confinement of a Children’s Text”. Kendra worked with two seminal texts of children’s literature, considering how Peter Pan and Alice, and the stories that contain them, speak to the lives and concerns of their respective authors in a way that gives immense power to their work. Kendra proposed that the dangerous and troubling questions asked in these books about religion and identity, among other topics, can only be asked in the supposedly safe realm of children’s literature.

Admittedly, I didn’t do any of these papers full justice — they were all complex and thoughtful in a way that cannot be encapsulated in a few sentences, and they all provoked excellent discussion during the question-and-answer session. All in all, it was a fantastic way to wind up the panel portion of the conference!

Casey Wilson is a first-year PhD student. She is convinced she got smarter just listening to these three papers.

Categories: Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

EGO Conference Retrospective, Part One

(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.

Categories: Critical Conversations, On and Around Campus

EGO Conference

By Casey Wilson

If you’re in Gainesville next Friday and Saturday (the 28 and 29 of October) there’s only one place you should be: at the English Graduate Organization’s annual conference. The conference theme this year is “Nothing New Under the Sun? Novelty, Game-Changing, and Genre-Breaking” and there are some excellent papers lined up. Check out the conference program — it includes two awesome panels devoted to children’s literature.

The highlight of the conference will be the keynote address by Dr. Richard Flynn from Georgia Southern University. His talk, titled “My Folk Revival: Childhood, Politics and Popular Music”, is “part of a creative/scholarly memoir in progress about the intersection of music, politics, youth and privilege in the late 1960s and early 1970s”. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Flynn speak at ChLA this summer, and I can assure you that you don’t want to miss it.

Saturday, October 29, at 6PM in Library East room 1A: Be there!

Categories: On and Around Campus

Library of the Early Mind

By Casey Wilson

This Monday, October 24, the Hippodrome Theatre will present Library of the Early Mind, “a grown-up look at the art of children’s literature”. There will be two screenings, one at 6 PM and one at 8:30 PM, with a panel discussion taking place at 7:30 PM. The press release for the event is here. Tickets are free, but reserve a space in advance to be sure you get in!

Categories: On and Around Campus

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