Detailed Table of Contents

The field of children’s and young adult literature seems haunted by a deep-seated contradiction: while this field arguably constitutes one of the biggest, thriving and continuously growing literary markets, the global YA market does not at all reflect the diversity of children and young adult readers that form its audience. The issue of who is represented and who can see oneself represented – who can and who cannot relate to characters in a story and on which grounds – are powerfully foregrounded in Gail Gauthier’s (2002) question: “Whose Community? Where Is the ‘YA’ in YA Literature?”

Melanie D. Koss and William H. Teale’s 2009 quantitative analysis of 370 YA titles in the U.S. offers insights which are telling beyond the U.S. market. Their findings uncover a deeply conservative literary field privileging predominantly white, euro-centric, ableist, hetero-normative and gender-conservative frameworks of representation. Thirty-two percent of texts in their archive foreground predominantly European-American protagonists, closely followed by a thirty percent portrayal of “international” albeit largely European characters, firmly relegating multicultural and non-white people to the ‘sidekick’ position. Only twenty-five percent of their archive depicted disability, and only ten percent of texts employed LGBTQ* characters

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Author’s Bio: David Kern is a lecturer and researcher at the English Department of the University of Cologne, where he also serves as eLearning coordinator at the Center for Australian Studies (CAS). David is currently working on a PhD project on literary activism in Indigenous Australian and Indigenous Canadian climate fiction texts. His research interests include Indigenous Australian & Canadian fiction, Climate Fiction and environmental criticism, narratives of conflict and remembrance, post-colonial theory, migration studies, as well as Muslim writing in English.

Abstract: While law and literature written for adults is a long-established field, there is a paucity of research focusing on texts written for young people. Even more so, however, is a dearth in research on texts with queer characters and how those texts connect with the latter. My work aims to understand the relationship between law and youth literature’s representations of queer identities. This article provides a literature review of these emerging areas, connecting them with debates surrounding Section 28 legislation in the UK, a law that was spurred by queer children’s literature and which effectively silenced queer identities in schools and libraries across the UK. Finally, this article offers possible pathways forward.

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Author’s Bio: Josh Simpson is a PhD researcher at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. Prior to returning to university, he was a lawyer in the US for approximately 10 years. He now focuses on queer identities and youth literature.

Abstract:

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have been remarkably successful on a global scale, and have been lauded for their optimistic, affectively celebratory visions of justice, ethics, and individual freedom. At the same time, a number of scholars including Farah Mendlesohn, Jack Zipes, and Maria Nikolajeva have pointed out the problematic conservatism and ethical insufficiency of the texts’ moral visions, which perpetuate a stultifying vision of autonomy. In this article, I seek to highlight the ideological roots of this vision in a late capitalist rationale of self-interest, with a focus on the texts’ treatment of romantic relationships and issues of consent, by analysing depictions of the love potion. My article explores the different narrative strategies employed in Harry Potter to shift readerly attention away from the problematic aspects of a magical commodity, whose function is to manipulate consent and autonomy, by instead highlighting them as amusing, largely harmless artefacts of wizardly childhood. Such strategies, as shall be explored, range from comic relief and abrupt narrative breaks in the form of foils to reversal of real-world gender associations and sanitisation of teenage romantic narratives. By examining how a popular fantasy text dilutes the issues of consent and coercion with reference to such an object, I seek to illuminate how the contemporary neoliberal ethos of the books participates in the reconfiguration of autonomy in terms of individual self-interest. Such a reconfiguration has a pervasive and significant influence not only on socio-economic behaviour, but also on cultural depictions of socio-romantic agency and perceptions of consent, autonomy, and manipulation.

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Author’s Bio: Kabir Chattopadhyay is the Pyle Postgraduate PhD Scholar in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His specialisation is on J.K. Rowling’s globally popular Harry Potter books, and how notions of ethics, justice, and individual autonomy are configured and perpetuated through such texts in popular culture, reinforcing an ethos of neoliberal meritocracy and complacency. His other research interests include 19th and 20th century Bengali children’s books from British colonial India, and how such texts continue to influence post-colonial Bengali political, social, and gender identities. He has recently submitted his PhD thesis at Trinity College, and is currently awaiting the completion of his degree.

Abstract: Children’s fiction has a history of challenging family conventions, from the inevitable wicked stepmother throughout fairy tales to the orphaned protagonists of 19th century children’s novels. In recent years there has been a small, but important, increase in Australian published picture books that showcase family diversity. However, family diversity is still a contentious issue in Australian picture books. Divergence from the traditional or nuclear family model, whether by structure, culture, gender or sexuality, remains nothing short of radical. The most common portrayal of a ‘typical’ Australian picture book family is white, middle class, with both biological parents and a male child protagonist. Australian picture book families are not just traditionally ‘intact’, but heteronormative, able-bodied, fully biological and highly gendered.

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Author’s Bio: Sarah Jayne Mokrzycki is a Melbourne-based artist, writer and researcher focusing on children’s literature and picture books. Sarah is currently completing a creative writing & visual arts PhD examining family diversity in children’s literature. In 2016 she completed her MA in publishing and editing, including a 20,000 word thesis on the representation of foster care in children’s books.

Abstract: Family is one of the most common and influential topics in children’s literature. However, depictions of families with non-traditional gender dynamics are still not common in picturebooks addressed to young audiences. In particular, fathers and mothers rarely counteract their gender roles; they usually fulfil socially constructed expectations linked to masculinity and femininity. Parental models are particularly influential in children’s construction of gender identity. For this reason, it is fundamental to promote inclusive children’s literature. This paper explores a selection of children’s picturebooks from different countries in which where new parental gender dynamics are presented. The depiction of gender standards will be related to family structures: children’s literature on same-sex families seems to be particularly effective in counteracting gender stereotypes linked to fatherhood and motherhood challenging traditional family structures and parental gender norms. 

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Author’s Bio: Dalila Forni is a Ph.D. student in Education Sciences and Psychology at University of Florence, Italy. Her research interests include children’s literature, gender studies and queer studies. She is currently researching how gender roles and family dynamics are represented in children’s narratives. 

Abstract:

“Wo sind die Feministinnen? Warum gehen sie nicht auf die Straße?”

(“Where are the feminists? Why don’t they take to the streets?”, my translation)

          By asking these questions, Seyran Ateş publicly expressed her disappointment with the German Left in the popular Austrian political TV talk-show Talk im Hangar 7, titled Ist der Islam noch zu retten? (Is it possible to save Islam?, my translation) that aired in 2017. Ateş, a well-known human rights lawyer and female Imam, had recently founded the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque in Berlin, which is the only self-described ‘liberal’ mosque in Germany. It is important to add here that the adjective ‘liberal’ in reference to Islamic places of worship or Islamic movements is a rather vague description, given the fact that many Muslims claim this attribute for their specific religious orientation. Ateş’s definition of ‘liberal’ implies – based on her claims made in Selam, Frau Imamin. Wie ich in Berlin eine liberale Moschee gründete (2017) (Selam, Mrs. Imam. How I Founded a Liberal Mosque in Berlin, my translation) – that the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe mosque serves as a counter-model to a place of worship where women and man are strictly separated. Moreover, women are encouraged to lead prayers and head coverings are not mandatory. In the spirit of building bridges between Muslim and non-Muslim cultures, Ateş explains that the mosque is purposely named after medieval Andalusian-Arabic polymath Ibn Rushd and German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Both are representatives of, in many ways, avant-garde thinking in different times and cultures. People of all genders, sexual orientations and religious denominations are welcome to visit the mosque and partake in the ceremonies . . . 

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Author’s Bio:Anja Wieden’s dissertation is entitled Female Experiences of Rape and Hunger in Postwar German Literature, 1945-1960. From 2010 to 2014, she worked both as program coordinator of German and faculty advisor for the summer study abroad program in Münster at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Anja Wieden is currently working on publications that focus on the narration and discourses of rape in postwar German literature. She teaches a variety of classes, ranging from beginning to advanced language, literature and culture as well as Business German.

Abstract: Catching Teller Crow, published in August 2018, is Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina’s first co-authored YA novel. As a sibling team, they have collaborated in the past on short novels and picture books, and this publication adds to their long-standing literary track record – delving deep into one of colonialism’s darkest legacies: the stolen generations in Australia and the history of forced child removal. “I’m not telling you what happened to ask for help”, says Isobel Catching, one of the narrative’s young adult protagonists, but “to be heard” (100), thus offering the novel’s programmatic punch-line. Twenty-one years after the “Bringing them Home Report”, which concluded the “National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families” (1997), Catching Teller Crow tackles the unfinished business of colonialism and offers a powerful story of strength, resilience and survival. . . . 

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Author’s Bio: David Kern is a lecturer and researcher at the English Department of the University of Cologne, where he also serves as eLearning coordinator at the Center for Australian Studies (CAS). David is currently working on a PhD project on literary activism in Indigenous Australian and Indigenous Canadian climate fiction texts. His research interests include Indigenous Australian & Canadian fiction, Climate Fiction and environmental criticism, narratives of conflict and remembrance, post-colonial theory, migration studies, as well as Muslim writing in English.