IRSCL Congresses

2019 Congress, Stockholm, Sweden

2019 IRSCL Congress Logo

The 24th Biennial Congress of IRSCL will be held by The Swedish Institute for Children's Books, in collaboration with the Department of Culture, Languages and Media at Malmö University, the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University, and the Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology at Åbo Akademi University, Finland, Stockholm, Sweden, 14 - 18 August 2019.

Theme: 'Silence and Silencing in Children's Literature'
Convenor: Åsa Warnqvist
Dates: August 14 - 18, 2019
Host Institution: Stockholm City Conference Centre, Stockholm, Sweden

Call for Papers

Children's literature tends to be seen as a liberating and empowering force in children's lives. At the same time, however, children's fictions can often be seen as implicated in a widespread and deeply rooted discourse of silence and silencing, which draws on the idea that "children should be seen but not heard." It can, for instance, be argued that the discursive silencing of children has been particularly influential in educational practices, even extending towards the regulation of "free" time and after-school activities. Children's fictions have been, and are still, implicated in this discourse (see e.g. Perry Nodelman; Deborah Thacker). If Orientalism is a discourse that silences non-Western perspectives, and patriarchy is a discourse that works towards the disempowerment and silencing of women, one can certainly maintain that children are othered, disenfranchised and muted in similar ways. Hence, in traditional didactic children's literature we can find many texts that either directly or indirectly advocate that children should be silent.

But children's literature is not just a discursive practice for silencing children. It is also a tool for empowerment, a means of giving children a voice. Thus, texts that challenge the silent child ideal are also key to unpacking the theme.

Moreover, silence can be linked to what is left unsaid and that which is explicitly censored. In other words, which subjects are tabooed and banned in children's fictions? We believe that the silences and lacunae within children's literature should be examined and voiced. Such an examination should also extend to reading practices, for it can be argued that reading itself may be an effective silencing strategy. A reading child causes no disturbance - an aspect of reading often overlooked and rarely critically examined. Ultimately, by interpreting the ways in which silence and silencing (alternatively "sound" and "voicing") work in children's fictions through representations and reading practices we hope to cause an "alarum" that will be noisily heard throughout the world of children's literature - and beyond!

See full call for papers for further details.

Past Congresses

2017 Toronto, Canada - Possible & Impossible Children: Intersections of Children's Literature & Childhood Studies
2015 Worcester, United Kingdom - Creating Childhoods: Creation and (Re)-Interpretation through the Body, Histories and the Arts
2013 Maastricht, The Netherlands - Children's Literature and Media Cultures
2011 Brisbane, Australia - Fear and Safety
2009 Frankfurt, Germany - Children's Literature and Cultural Diversity in the Past and the Present
2007 Kyoto, Japan - Power and Children's Literature: Past, Present and Future
2005 Dublin, Ireland - Expectations and Experiences: Children, Childhood and Children's Literature
2003 Kristiansand, Norway - Telling a World, Shaping a World.
2001 Klein Kariba, South Africa - Change and Renewal in Children's Literature
1999 Calgary, Canada - Children's Literature and the fin de siècle (Joint meeting with the Children's Literature Association)
1997 York, England - The Presence of the Past in Children's Literature
1995 Stockholm, Sweden - Reflections of Change: the last 50 Years in Children's Literature
1993 Geelong, Australia - Crossing the boundaries: Multiculturalism in Children's Literature
1991 Paris, France - The Applications of Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory to Children's Literature
1989 Salamanca, Spain - The History of Children's Literature
1987 Cologne, Germany - Books for children, Books for adults; The Relationship between them
1985 University of Quebec, Montreal - Literary Aspects of Fantasy and Fantastic Literature for Children and Young People
1983 Bordeaux, France - Portrayal of the Child in Children's Literature
1981 Moscow, USSR - International Dissemination of Children`s Literature Research; Trends in Teaching of Children's Literature, Status of Research in Specific Countries
1978 Exeter, Great Britain - Responses to Children's Literature: Children's Responses to Text and Illustrations
1976 Södertälje, Sweden - Problems of Translation in the Field of Literature for Children and Young People
1974 Boldern, Switzerland - Study of Reading Habits and Research on Sex Role Stereotyping in Literature for Children and Young People
1971 Frankfurt, Germany - Children's Literature as a Subject of Research