Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem and Sara L. Schwebel, professor and director of The Center for Children's Books, participated in the Children's Literature Association (ChLA) annual conference, which was held virtually on June 10-12. This year's conference explored the idea of the arcade, broadly understood, in children's and young adult literature, media, and culture.
Hoiem presented the paper, "The Forge and the Fireside: Gendered Spaces in Victorian STEM Books," which investigates the historical origins of how STEM education is gendered today by examining Victorian books about technology. According to Hoiem, the books show learning taking place in two settings—the forge and the fireside.
"Just as the Victorian sitting room serves as an index for knowledge of global trade, with china or silverware carefully organized in curio drawers, the boys' workshop illuminated by the forge references globally sourced artisan knowledge and raw materials, through its organized tools and stocks. There is a remarkable correspondence between the workshop and the sitting room, or the forge and the fireside," she said. "Victorian STEM books thus create some of the first representations of boys conducting messy engineering experiments, from which girls are excluded."
In her research and teaching, Hoiem explores the history of technological innovations in children’s literature, from early children's books and toys to contemporary applications of digital pedagogy. She received a 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her current book project, "The Education of Things: Mechanical Literacy in British Culture, 1752-1860." This project investigates the class politics of "object lessons," a mode of experiential learning that developed during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the rise in child labor and mass literacy.
Schwebel organized two panels for ChLA 2021 with Jocelyn Van Tuyl, professor of French at New College of Florida, chairing one panel, "The Newbery Centennial: Who is Seen in the U.S. South." Schwebel and Van Tuyl coedited a book marking the 100th anniversary of the American Library Association's first children's literature prize, the Newbery Medal. Their book, Dust off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children's Literature at the Newbery Centennial will be released by Routledge this summer.
"Our panels featured six presenters, representing just under half of the chapters in our forthcoming volume," said Schwebel.
Schwebel's research areas include children's and young adult literature, history/social studies pedagogy, public history, and digital humanities. She is the author of Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms (2011) and the editor of Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (2016) and The Lone Woman and Last Indians Digital Archive.