Call for Papers: Nostalgia in and for Children’s Literature
CFP for a guaranteed session sponsored by the MLA Forum on Children’s and Young Adult Literature. To be held at the 2024 MLA in Philadelphia, January 4-7, 2024
Nostalgia is a transideological phenomenon. Its politics depend upon the direction of its longing. There’s the restorative variety that fuels totalitarian thinking, and the reflective type that acknowledges history’s brokenness and memory’s imperfections (both Boym 2001). Alastair Bonnett (2010) writes of an anti-colonialist nostalgia that expresses radical yearnings for social transformation. Badia Ahad-Legardy (2021) has recently theorized Afro-nostalgia, which can create an archive of Black historical joy to repair traumatic memory. Environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht (2003) has also proposed solastalgia to describe the distress created by climate change — a “homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home.’”
Children’s books activate nostalgia for childhoods both real and imagined, and can stir strong emotions in adults. Indeed, in evoking what is both cherished and lost, children’s books have a great potential to inspire a reactionary response — as Walter Benjamin (1929) has pointed out, and as public debates over problematic children’s books regularly demonstrate.
This panel invites papers about nostalgia in and for children’s books. Whether the nostalgia is located in the work, in its readers, or in the environment in which it is read or produced, what are the objects of its longing? What political uses does it invite? What are nostalgia’s perils and possibilities?
Please submit a 300-word abstract and 2-page CV by March 20 to Philip Nel <email@example.com>