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March 18, 2009

CFP: The History of Books for Children and Young Adults 2009

The University of Bedfordshire is hosting a forthcoming one-day conference on the history of books for children and young adults to be held on the 16th June 2009 at the Polhill Campus, Bedford. The conference is titled the Hockliffe Conference in honour of a local bookseller, Frederick Hockliffe, whose son donated his collection of early children’s books to what was then Bedford Training College in 1927.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Dr Matthew Grenby from the University of Newcastle, who was involved in the project to digitise some of the rarest books in the archive, and who will open the proceedings by presenting a paper titled ‘The Child Reader and the Birth of Children’s Literature’. The day's proceedings will end with readings by one or more contemporary children’s writers (please check the conference website for updates on this).

The Hockliffe archive comprises almost one thousand works of fiction and non-fiction for children from the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These include a wide range of literary genres, from fables and fairy tales, through periodicals and instruction books, to poetry and fiction, as well as books on games and pastimes, natural science, history, mathematics, geography and travel, (amongst others). You can access the catalogue online by following the link below: http://www.cts.dmu.ac.uk/hockliffe/

We do not, however, wish to restrict papers to work on books actually in the collection, although papers on these are of course very welcome, but instead we wish to use the conference as an occasion to celebrate the long and vibrant history of publications aimed at children and young adults, and the increasingly multi-disciplinary areas of research with which this has been associated. We therefore welcome contributions that centre on the following very broad topics and themes:

Academic approaches to children’s, young adult (YA) and crossover literature.
The history of children’s book illustration, including work on picture books, comics and graphic novels.
The representation of children and childhood in fiction and non-fiction.
Multi-disciplinary work in the fields of childhood and youth studies.
The history of instruction books for children, from bible stories and hymns, through books on history, geography and travel, to natural science and mathematics.
Children’s oral culture, including folklore, myths and legends.
Pedagogic theory and practice, from ABC books, to postgraduate courses on children’s literature and culture and creative writing for young and YA readers.
The history of children’s play and leisure, including research on toys, games, and sports.
Multi-media childhoods, including work on the history of children’s television, film and computer games.
Other related topics and themes will be considered for inclusion in the conference programme. Please submit a 250 word abstract, accompanied by contact details and a brief biography, to be received by 17th April 2009, to the following address:

The Hockliffe Conference
c/o Dr Clare Walsh
Division of Performing Arts & English
University of Bedfordshire
Polhill Avenue
Bedford
MK41 9EA

Or by email to: hockliffe@beds.ac.uk

Website: http://www.beds.ac.uk/research/rimad/hockcliffeconference

Please note that proposed papers from postgraduate students are welcome.

March 10, 2009

Mid-century illustrations of Charley Harper

The work of Charley Harper (1922-2007) was recently brought to my attention by fellow illustration afficionado Tammy Lu -- Harper was an impressive and prolific 'mid-century' illustrator who was especially drawn to natural themes.

CH-closeup.jpg

The first I saw of his work was in this film by fashion designer Todd Oldham, who fittingly labels the style 'handmade modern'. Though the film is a bit corny, the spirit behind Harper's aesthetic approach definitely comes through.

Harper's magnum opus is possibly the Giant Golden Book of Biology of 1961, whose beautiful flat illustrations can be seen if you follow that link to grain edit. My guess is there are probably many more diagrammatic or instructional pictures in the volume but these wouldn't have made the cut in this little gallery!

Oldham recently created a retrospective book of Harper's work, An Illustrated Life, a bit of an investment, but still more affordable than an original copy of the Golden Book of Biology.