Discovering the Child’s Voice: A report from the Lucy Cavendish Children’s Literature Society

by Jen Aggleton on 5 October 2016

On Friday 16th September 2016, the Lucy Cavendish Children’s Literature Society held our first academic symposium, ‘Discovering the Child’s Voice: A symposium on children’s literature methodologies’. Despite the unpleasant weather, the turn out was excellent, and we were fortunate to have several international experts in the field in attendance.

The day began with an engaging and thought-provoking keynote given by Professor Kimberley Reynolds from the University of Newcastle. Professor Reynolds discussed ways in which Catherine Storr presented child voice(s) in her children’s works, and more than one person in the room felt inspired to discover or re-visit this frequently overlooked author.

Following Kimberley’s keynote there were a series of excellent presentations from speakers working in a variety of fields. We heard about research undertaken by classicists, medievalists, educators, and librarians, as well as literature scholars. We learned about the challenges and rewards of archival studies, empirical research, cognitive poetics and linguistic analysis. The nature and purpose of inter-disciplinary research was thoroughly debated, and Professor Maria Nikolajeva provided a very memorable metaphor of the distinction between multi-disciplinary research and inter-disciplinary research: multi-disciplinary research is like a fruit salad, whilst inter-disciplinary research is like a smoothie!

The formal part of the symposium ended with a roundtable, where everyone was able to further explore the many issues raised during the day. It was a lively discussion, greatly enhanced by the wide variety of viewpoints in the room. We left at the end feeling inspired, challenged, a little tired, and (as is inevitable with children’s literature conferences) with a long list of new books to read!

After the roundtable the wonderful librarians at the Lucy Cavendish College Library hosted a display of some of the books from the Founder’s Collection of Victorian children’s literature. Having the opportunity to examine some of these treasures at the end of the symposium was the perfect way to end the day, as it brought us back in touch with the material texts that link all of our different approaches to children’s literature together. We are very glad to have a fine tradition of children’s literature at Lucy Cavendish College, and the Children’s Literature Society aims to keep this tradition alive and well so future generations of students may enjoy it as much as we do.

To find out more about the society and our upcoming events, please visit our webpage here.


Photo of Professor Reynolds







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