M. O. Grenby, dean of research and innovation and professor of eighteenth-century studies at Newcastle University, UK, will deliver the 2021 Gryphon Lecture on April 15. Sponsored annually by The Center for Children's Books (CCB), the lecture features a leading scholar in the field of youth and literature, media, and culture.
In "Going Global: Transnational Networks and the Spread of Early Modern Children’s Books," Grenby will examine a little-known aspect of the early history of children's literature: the international networks by which children's books were transported and transplanted around the globe in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries.
"Often, these books were intended to be instruments of colonialism or were designed to support religious conversion," he said. "But what's also remarkable is the way that new, hybrid forms of children's books emerged, as European practices met with existing traditions or adapted to local contexts in India and China, or North and South America."
According to Grenby, the rapid and "extraordinarily large-scale" movement of these children's books around the world had a huge effect not only on the development of children's literature, but also on the history of print as a whole.
"What's also obvious is that a globalized culture of childhood, in which children across the world know many of the same books, is not a completely modern phenomenon," he said.
Grenby's research interests include pre-modern children's literature and culture, eighteenth-century political literature and culture, and the connections between children, antiquarianism, and "heritage." He is the author of several monographs, including The Anti-Jacobin Novel: British Conservatism and the French Revolution and The Child Reader 1700-1840, which won the Harvey Darton Award, as well as editor of books including Popular Children's Literature in Britain and The Cambridge Companion to Children's Literature. He earned his MA and PhD from the University of Edinburgh.