Saturday, 11 June 2016

Pros and Cons

Okay, this month’s ABBA piece is a bit of a cheat, I’ll admit. Not so much a blog as a wish-you-were-here postcard – but then, it’s summer, more or less, so perhaps that can be forgiven.

Where is here? Here is Ohio. I’m at the Children’s Literature Association Conference, probably the biggest annual academic conference devoted to children’s literature, with some 200 like-minded scholars, and a just a sprinkling of authors too.

(So far I’ve only seen one actual child. I always feel it’s a bit strange that people meet to discuss children’s literature in the absence of children, and the activist slogan rings through my head: “Nothing about us without us!” On the other hand, I don’t suppose zoologist conventions have wildebeest wandering up and down the corridors – though I can’t help feeling that’s a bad analogy, for reasons I’m currently too tired to put my finger on…)

Did I mention I was tired? Well, it’s partly the jet lag of course, partly the worry occasioned by being separated from my luggage for 24 hours, owing to a combination of rerouted flights and the Transportation Security Administration’s zeal in breaking into my suitcase at every opportunity. Partly it’s having got up early to practise my own paper, which I gave at the strangely early hour of 8am. But mostly it’s because I’ve been running around trying to see, do and meet everything and everyone. Having fun is exhausting.

What do we do at these conferences? Mostly things like this...

The sight of academics talking very seriously about anything causes mirth in some people, I know, and that reaction is likely to be redoubled when the subject is children’s literature, which is widely believed to be so straightforward as to make explanation or analysis superfluous. No one reading this blog would be so dismissive, of course, but even so I’d offer a stirring defence of the necessity of taking children’s literature seriously right now if I hadn’t already done it on numerous previous occasions – besides which, I really am too tired. So you’ll have to take my word for it - or not, as you prefer.

Meanwhile, I’m off to hear a panel on “Meaning Making in Multimodal Texts”. Chacun à son gout.


Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for doing this for us - and I'm sure your talk went well!

Penny Dolan said...

Hope you have - er, - fun, Cathy! Sounds an interesting and slightly daunting programme. Glad that you were wishing us there in Ohio but rather glad the magic of those wishes didn't disturb my sleep. Hope your own paper went excellently!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Somehow I can't see children getting too excited about "Making meaning in multimodal texts" so perhaps just as well there weren't many. I can remember going to the Children's Book Week Fair one year, with a friend and her child in tow. He ran ahead and stopped in surprise. "Where are the books?" he asked. There weren't any, apart from a small display of that year's short list. Oh, there were activities for the kids, but a Book Week fair with no books? Weird! It was the first and hopefully the last time that happened.

Hope you enjoy your conference, though I think I prefer our own Reading Matters conference, which is all about writers and books and has a student day when children can go and hear their favourites and nobody talks about multimodal texts! ;-)