Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem and doctoral student Melissa Hayes will participate in the annual conference of the Children’s Literature Association coming up June 18-20 in Richmond, Virginia. The theme of the year’s conference is “‘Give me liberty, or give me death!’: The High Stakes and Dark Sides of Children’s Literature.”
Hoiem will chair a session titled, “Liberty and Death for the Nineteenth-Century Child,” during which she will present her paper, “‘Naughty full-grown babes’: Children's Literature and the Radical Press, 1816-1836.”
From the abstract: My paper investigates intersections between British working-class radical literature and children’s literature in the early-nineteenth century, during the fight for freedom of the press. Arguing that these are mutually constitutive genres, I show that both workers and children were constructed as vulnerable audiences who require mental improvement. Often the same authors who wrote children’s literature also published “safe” literature for newly literate and upwardly mobile adults (ex. Hannah More, Maria Edgeworth). Meanwhile, radical publishers such as William Cobbett and Henry Hetherington based their political satires on popular children’s hymns, books, rhymes, and school pieces, and in the case of William Hone, garnered legitimacy by simultaneously publishing family periodicals as well as radical texts.
I see the Radical press’s interest in children’s literature as a response to infantilization of the poor as “children,” incapable of self-governance. During the turbulent years between Waterloo (1815) and Chartism (1836), authors in the radical press defiantly play-acted the school child, using Socratic irony, name-calling, and infantile language. Styling themselves as young rebels against a parental church and state, radicals embraced and reconfigured images of themselves as uneducated children. I will survey a range of satirical exchanges between radical adult and children’s texts, explore the way working-class adults responded to infantilization, and propose ways that children’s literature was historically influenced by the Radical press.
Hayes will give a presentation titled, “Being Honored: African American Illustrators and their Caldecott Recognized Books, 2000-2015,” during the session, “Illustrating African American History.”
Abstract: Since the establishment of the Caldecott Medal in 1938, the committees have recognized only a handful of African American Illustrators. The purpose of this presentation is to examine the illustrations in the ten books created by African Americans that have been recognized by the Caldecott committees between 1999 and 2014. The books represent a wide range of artistic styles and themes, however with an in depth analysis of each of the book several key connections can be developed. From this close analysis of the picture books and the African American illustrators who created them, we can begin to see the connections that reveal to us common trends that lead to a work being labeled as distinguished by the Caldecott committees. The purpose of the presentation is to reveal those connections.