Sunday 9 May 2010

NCRCL Conference, Roehampton University

As predicted,yesterday was a much better day for me as I wallowed in academe. I went to the NCRCL conference at Roehampton University with my Director of Studies. I saw many people I had met at other conferences and who happen to be on the editorial board of the e-journal I edit with Andrew Melrose (also my Director of Studies) - Write4Children (found at Peter Hunt was there, along with Maria Nikolajeva of the University of Cambridge, and Kim Reynolds, of the University of Newcastle. And had a Facebook blind date with Laura Atkins of Roehampton University, who has a brilliant article in our latest edition but also who I am in contact with via Facebook. Though dismissed by many it is proving to be a vital tool for maintaining contacts with other academics and authors for me.

Lisa Sainsbury's paper, 'But the Soldier's Remains Were Gone: thought experiments in British Children's Literature', was very useful for my PhD with her use of the though experiment, definitely something I felt I could apply to the books I review and the book I am writing for it. At the parallel session I attended, Farah Mendlesohn, who gave a paper entitled 'The Domestic Landscape of Children's Fantasy', partly solved a query I have about why there is that surprise chapter on Pan in Wind in the Willows when giving her paper, for which I am very grateful. Matthew Grenby from the University of Newcastle gave a wonderful paper on 'The Uses (and Abuses) of Literacy: attitudes to children's reading and the origins of modern children's literature'. This paper was fascinating as Matthew showed us examples of books that had been de-faced by children in the 18th century in much the same way children of today do. Writing their names in it, changing titles, colouring the pictures in, writing comments etc. And as my other passion is the long 18th century this was of particular interest to me but of no real use to my PhD.

The other paper in the parallel session I attended was one by Charlie Butler, entitled 'The Irrelevance of Genre to Historical Books for Children', which was an interesting paper as it broadened the definition of historical books to encompass time slip books and the like to the genre. Emer O'Sullivan gave a paper on 'The Cultural Construction and Literary Representation of National Characters in Children's Literature' which was a wonderfully amusing paper with some fascinating illustrations. Unfortunately due to my lack of stamina because of my condition we were unable to stay for Bart Moeyaert's presentation on the creative process, which was a shame though I imagine it was fascinating.

I had a chance to meet up with Alison Waller who has written a book I use so much in my PhD (Constructing Adolescence in Fantastic Realism). It was a joy to talk to her and I hope to have the opportunity again soon.

The day for me was both hard, yet enlightening, as it highlighted the freedom I now have. I didn't have to keep checking my phone nor did I need to get any of my sisters up to take care of my mother. It was a very relaxed day, if cold!
Another one of my baby steps to this new life and new identity I am now creating from the debris left over.

Thank you Laura and everyone at Roehampton for a great day.

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