Congress Report: 21st Biennial Congress in Maastricht, The Netherlands

Children's Literature and Media Cultures

10-14 August, 2013
Maastricht, The Netherlands

2013 IRSCL Congress Logo

Convenor: Elisabeth Wesseling

Committee Members: Karin Wenz, Karen Ghonem, Helma van Lierop, Vanessa Joosen, Rose-May Pham Dinh, Roos Wolters, Lidwien Hollanders, Wilma Lieben

Keynote Speakers: Professor Adriana Bus, Universiteit Leiden, The Netherlands; Professor Junko Yokota, National-Louis University, USA; Professor Kerry Mallan, Queensland University of Technology, Australia; Professor Gudrun Marci-Boehncke, Technische Universiteit Dortmund, Germany; Professor Jackie Marsh, University of Sheffield, UK

Sponsors: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO), Stichting Lezen (Dutch Reading Foundation), Municipality of Maastricht, University Foundation Limburg (SWOL)

The Maastricht Congress

2013 IRSCL Congress Sign

2013 Congress Sign at Entrance

Congress Venue

The 21st IRSCL Congress was held at the Business School Building at Maastricht University in Maastrict, The Netherlands. The Business School Building is a nineteenth-century monastery that has been restructured for teaching purposes. It accommodates spacious lecture halls as well as a large amount of seminar rooms that are equipped with cutting edge ICT facilities for DVD, CD, TV, USB, powerpoint beamers and screens, and internet access. Catering for the conference took place in the Economics Cafeteria, which adjoins a spacious garden. The Congress was convened by Elisabeth Wesseling who was assisted by dedicated scientific and organizing committees.

Maastricht University

Maastrict University Business Building

Maastricht Town Hall

Maastricht Town Hall

Academic and Social Program

This conference aspired towards the following two aims:

  • We wanted to enhance the ongoing scholarly dialogue between children's literature studies and media studies.
  • We wanted to create a bridge between empirical and hermeneutic approaches to children's texts and associated media.
  • We wanted to avoid compartmentalization of attendance along national lines.

I am confident to say we have met all our aims. First of all, in order to facilitate the creation of liaisons between scholars from different fields of expertise and geographical regions, it is imperative that one creates a stimulating social environment which makes delegates feel welcome and at ease, so they can concentrate all of their attention on content and contacts, rather than on practicalities. We have seen to this by:

  • Selecting a spacious and attractive venue, with a suitable cafeteria and adequate ICT facilities and support
  • Organizing high quality catering, including two conference dinners in inspirational and appropriate surroundings (Bookstore Polaris, the municipal library)
  • Offering an attractive cultural program where people can mix and mingle, i.e. a reception, a lecture by a children's author, a film program
  • Having a service-oriented crew at hand throughout the conference
  • Seeing to the aesthetic side of things (posters, conference bags, etc. in an attractive lay-out)
Dominicanen Bookshop

Lecture by Bart Moeyart at Bookshop Dominicanen

Second, we paid special attention to the nationalities of delegates when we composed the panels, making sure we mixed contributors from diverse geographical backgrounds, thereby also mixing their prospective audiences.

Kerry Mallan's Keynote

Audience watching keynote presentation by Kerry Mallan

Third, we selected our keynotes in such a way that a good balance between empirical and hermeneutic approaches was achieved, Jackie Marsh and Adriana Bus working within a social science framework, Gudrun Boehncke operating within interdisciplinary literacy paradigms, while Kerry Mallan and Junko Yokota represented text-oriented approaches. None of the keynotes, however, are confined to "their box"; all five are capable of looking beyond and very much aware of alternative approaches to the subject at hand, and capable of reflecting on the pros and cons of different approaches, which is what Adriana Bus and Yunko Yokota did very explicitly in their lectures.

Fourth, we actively acquired and subsequently organized papers in such a way that empirical and hermeneutic approaches were represented in a balanced way throughout the conference.

Gudrun Boehncke's Keynote

Gudrun Marci-Boehncke delivering her keynote

Fifth, children's literature studies and media studies mingled quite spontaneously through the strong focus on matters of adaptation and remediation addressed by a great many conference papers. Quite a few delegates did not only discuss how content crosses the borders between media but also between cultures. This was very strong point of the conference, I feel, because the rather cosmopolitan IRSCL provides an ideal forum for this sort of work.

Sixth, we have made a concerted effort to select appropriate moderators, who were knowledgeable about the sessions they chaired. This also makes a difference, we feel, and is well worth spending time on.

Prepared by Elisabeth Wesseling

Opening Remarks of 2013 IRSCL Congress

Keynote by Jackie Marsh - "From the Whip and Top to the Wii: A Historical Analysis of Media, Digital Technologies and Play"

Keynote by Junko Yokota - "What Works Well Where When? How Various Qualities of Digital and Print Picture Books Shape Reader Response"

Keynote by Gudrun Marci-Boehncke - "Children's and Young Adult's Literature in a Digitized World: Cultural and Political Preconditions for Literary Education"

Keynote by Kerry Mallan - "The Lies We Tell: Children's Texts and the Role of (Dis)information in an Age of Security"

Keynote by Adriana Bus - "Electronic Storybooks for three- to six-year-olds: Putting Reading in Jeopardy?"

Closing Remarks of 2013 IRSCL Congress