This year, the CLS Steering and Planning Committees invite proposals from scholars, critics, researchers, librarians, educators, children's book authors and illustrators, and graduate students for presentations that address the topic of “variants” in children’s and young adult literature: books with plots built upon folklore or other previously written tales. Interest in variants is hardly new, and ultimately, all texts build upon one another. However, recent increases in the publication of picturebooks, novels, and releases of other media (such as film and video games) with plots or structures that draw on folklore (e.g., Gidwitz’s  A Tale Dark and Grimm, Weston’s  Dust City), the work of authors like William Shakespeare (e.g., Dionne’s  The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, Stone’s  The Romeo and Juliet Code, Ray’s  Falling for Hamlet), Henry James (e.g., Griffin’s  Tighter), or Jules Verne (e.g., Blackwood’s  “sort of sequel,” Around the World in 100 Days), or composers like Vivaldi (e.g., Zalben’s  Four Seasons: A Novel in Four Movements) suggest a renewed cultural fascination with texts that “play” with other texts. In addition, single texts have been adapted across media: Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (2002), for example, has been released as both a 2009 feature film and as a 2008 graphic novel (adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell).
Through this year’s symposium, we seek to further discussions and enrich understandings of both historical and contemporary children’s and young adult literature and media that lean on, contradict, or extend other texts—privileging some at the expense of others. Potential topics include (but are not limited to):
•Literary lore, fractured fairy tales, and the authorial use (and/or abuse) of folklore
•Cultural literacy and cultural capital
•Reinscribing and disrupting media Canons
•Shifting audiences: retellings or the appropriation of children’s texts for adults (or “adult” texts being retold or appropriated by/for children)
•Variants as/in translation
•Fanfiction, slash fiction, and other reader-created retellings
•Re-writing of “mainstream” texts by traditionally marginalized populations (i.e., people of color, queer sexualities)
•Theories of variation in narrative and poetic structures (generally—and in texts for young people explicitly)
We invite 250-500 word abstracts for both individual paper presentations or virtual papers. While all proposals will be considered, preference will be given to those which focus on most clearly on the conference theme.
About the CLS:
Established in 2007, the Children's Literature Symposium at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is an annual conference sponsored by the College of Education. Children's Literature Symposium conferences center on issues related to the study of children’s and young adult literature. The overarching goal of these symposia is to critically explore genres of children’s and young adult literature through scholarship, research, and criticism. As opposed to focusing on the pedagogical uses of children's texts, the Children's Literature Symposium treats "children's literature" and "young adult literature" as genres, as opposed to indicators of readership. By bringing together scholars, critics, and researchers in literary analysis, education, and library and information sciences, the Children's Literature Symposium seeks to engage participants in critical discussions about children's and young adult literature.
Each year, the Children's Literature Symposium provides a program through which participants engage with critical and theoretical perspectives on children’s and young adult literature through presentations that address contemporary issues and trends that affect children’s and young adult literature, media, and culture. With a primary audience of professionals in English, education, library/media science (as well as community members and others with an interest in this body of literature), the Children's Literature Symposium aims to engage participants in scholarly discussions about children’s and young adult literature.