7 November 2007

CFP - "Other Worlds in Children's Literature: Fantasy, Reality and Imagination" (Wellington, NZ; 27-29 June 2008) Deadline: 31 Jan 2008

“Other Worlds in Children’s Literature: Fantasy, Reality and Imagination”

8th International Conference of the Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research (ACLAR).

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
27-29 June 2008.

“We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto!” Only in Oz can Dorothy have the fantastical journey that includes witches and wizards, talking animals, a living scarecrow and magic slippers. And yet at the end of her adventure she concludes that “there’s no place like home”. What role then do reality and fantasy play in children’s literature? Does fantasy rush in where the real-world fears to tread? Is there any reason to believe that fantasy feeds the child’s imagination better than an imagined story written within realistic conventions? Or is it pure escapism that needs to be grounded in reality to be relevant to the young reader?

And how far removed is fantasy from reality? Harry Potter lives in the real world but with added magic; Pullman’s His Dark Materials crosses between our real world and alternative realistic (non-magical) worlds; Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is set in an absurdly unrealistic real world. Once back in Kansas Dorothy is astonished to find that in Oz “you – and you – and you – and you were there!” So with the many combinations, crossovers and overlappings between reality and fantasy, is there even a clear separation between the two?

Confirmed as plenary speakers for the conference are Professor Rod McGillis, of Calgary University (books include The Nimble Reader: Literary Theory and Children’s Literature and Voices of the Other: Literature, Colonialism, Postcolonialism and Neo-colonialism) and Bernard Beckett, one of New Zealand’s leading writers for young adults (books include Jolt, Home Boys and New Zealand Post Book Award winner Genesis).

We are inviting papers on children’s literature and the following areas of interest:

• fantasy/alternate worlds
• reality vs. fantasy
• imagination/escapism/realism
• perceptions of reality
• representations of children’s imagination
• alienation
• the politics of fantasy
• fantasy as parody/criticism/subversion
• ideological implications of fantasy
• psychology of fantasy
• fantasy as allegory
• the make-believe of realism
• relevant sub-genres (fairy-tale, sci-fi, alternative history, absurdist fiction, biopunk etc.)

Please send abstracts (300 words max) to Anna Jackson (anna.jackson@vuw.ac.nz) by 31 January 2008. Papers should be no longer than 20 minutes. Offers of panels welcome.