Call for Papers, Workshop: Politics and (Arabic) Children’s Books

The Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) has taken up some of my favorite topics: Arabic children’s literature and translation. They sent out the following call for papers and workshop announcement:

The “NVIC.”


International workshop organized by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC)

Date: Thursday 15 November 2012
Location: NVIC, Cairo

The image of the child is a key-concept in children’s literature.  Children’s books exist on the idea that children are different enough from adults to need their own kind of literature (Nodelman, 1997). From the very beginning of a literature intentionally written for children, children’s books represent adult constructions of children and childhood. These adult views of children are historically and culturally determined. Over the time social and political circumstances have changed the ideas of what children are and what they should be. The same can be said of the family, another important concept in children’s literature. The family is a recurrent topic in children’s books and changes taking place in society at large also transformed the configuration of the family in books for children in the past century.

 This international workshop on children and family in children’s literature wants to analyze and evaluate the image of the child and its place in the family in different time periods and in different places. The central question is in what ways societal changes influence the construction of children, childhood and the family in books for young readers.

Related to this question several other questions can be posed:

* what is the relation of this constructed image in children’s books with the aims of children’s literature, as perceived by authors, parents, publishers, governments, schools, etc.?

* what are the consequences of the culturally determined view of children for the translation of children’s books? What happens with the construction of the child and the family when a particular book is translated from one country to another, for example when Dutch children’s books are translated into Arabic? Which books are selected for translation, by whom, and based on which criteria?

* has the “ Arab spring” already left an impression on the children’s literature in the region, like it has on “adult literature”, music and other art forms?

We invite papers on these and related topics. The focus will be on the Arab world, but contributions from other areas and more global/theoretical papers related to the subject will also be welcomed.

The keynote speech of the workshop will be delivered by Prof. Helma van Lierop (Leiden University), and will address the evolution of the image of the child in Dutch children’s literature in the second half of the 20th Century.

Authors, publishers and translators of children’s literature are invited to participate in the workshop as well as scholars. We aim at bringing together academics and people actually working in the field of children’s literature, in order to create opportunities for exchange and dialogue.

Please contact if you are interested in presenting a paper in this workshop. The deadline for proposals is 15 September 2012.