Topics covered in the 2023 summer school

Jane Carroll | “Play, Fashion and Self-Fashioning in mid-century comic books”

This session explores the role of child readers as creators and playful participants in mid-century comic books. While I will draw on British examples, my main focus is the American comic Katy Keene. When the comic launched in 1949, the editor Bill Woggon invited child readers to become co-creators of the comic’s content, calling on them to suggest storylines, and to submit original designs for the clothes and accessories that Katy wore. The paper dolls included in the comic invited further creative play, encouraging readers to continue the game of dressing Katy, America’s “Queen of Pin-Ups and Fashions” at home. In this way, Katy Keene offered opportunities for both fashioning and self-fashioning, becoming a ludic space where children play with ideas and images of fashion, mixing pieces inspired by haute couture with outlandish inventions of their own. This session explores Katy Keene as a space where play, child readers and high fashion come together.

Margaret Masterson | “Canon, Paracanon and Anticanon: Finding value and meaning in the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books”

How do we assign value or extract meaning from children’s books? Is it through canon formation or a process more personal? What can a special collection of children’s literature tell us about the books we cherish? This lecture seeks to define ‘value’ and ‘meaning’, and asks what makes childhood texts and children’s books valuable. It considers Alison Waller’s argument that there are two types of canon formation, private and public. It discusses Catharine Stimpson’s theory of paracanon and asks if ‘anticanon’ might be a better term in relation to canon formation. And finally, it queries how reading as children and re-reading as adults impact how we think about and respond to books we consider meaningful. 

Dara Downey | “The Marrow Thieves, a Native American YA dystopia”

Abstract to come!

Tony Flynn | “Childish Transformations: The transformation of books in the Pollard Collection and Pollard Schoolbook Collection through marginalia”

This session explores children’s marginalia and, especially, subversive and transgressive mark-making. Looking to Adler’s 1941 essay “How to Mark a Book” in which Adler states that the person who marks books is the person who “owns books” and to H.L. Jackson’s assertion that all marginalia are an extension of the ownership inscription, this session examines this idea of ownership as defined by evident use. Focusing on materials in the Pollard and Schoolbook Collection, I ask if, in a strange way, defacement is the ultimate act of asserted ownership? Defacement permanently takes something that could belong to anyone and makes it belong to a specific person and permanently alters the book.

Becky Long | “Away from the Shadowy Path”: Identity and Bodily Experience in the Deepwoods”

The Twig Trilogy (Beyond the DeepwoodsStormchaserMidnight Over Sanctaphrax) by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, follows the (mis)adventures of Twig, a young boy searching for who he is even as he attempts to find a way to survive in the Deepwoods, the most dangerous and hostile place on the Edge. Through trauma, solitude, and deep interaction with an often sentient landscape, Twig fashions an identity for himself, a selfhood built around a deep silence and a haunting void. Using the works of Edward S. Casey, Gaston Bachelard, and Mircea Eliade, among others, this session will explore, as Twig does, the Deepwoods itself, and the ways in which bodily experience in hostile spaces influences the development of identity in children’s fantasy literature. 

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