Comparative Children's Lit panel at MLA 2015

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    Melek Ortabasi

    Please join us!

    Watch for this exciting panel, which has just been approved, at the 2015 meeting!

    “Writing the Future”
    The East Asia to 1900 and East Asia after 1900 divisions have selected for a collaborative session four short papers that focus on the ways in which literature written for children addressed the often turbulent transitions to modernity in East Asia across the long twentieth century. Facing waves of colonization, re-colonization, war, occupation and independence, governmental agencies of education and culture actively promoted cultural programs of ‘literature for little citizens.’ The concept arose from early twentieth century debates about the pedagogical and moral uses of juvenile literature, both on the part of proletarian authors (who wished to move children’s literature away from fantastical and temporally remote folkloric settings to a focus on contemporary conditions and sketches of daily experience) and on the part of language theorists (who saw children’s literature as a place to solidify affective bonds with a national tongue).
    As scholar Ōfuji Mikio has noted, the move from using children’s literature to enforce socially-engaged morals and communitarian language practices, to using children’s literature to enforce nationalist and militarist aims was less a marked leap than a smooth evolution. The four short papers outline this historical shift in reverse order, beginning with the full-blown proletarian nationalism of 1950s North Korea and tracing the evolution of key characteristics as they emerged in occupied Singapore in the 1930s, in late Qing and early Republican era China, and in Meiji era Japan.

    Panelists: Dafna Zur, Chris Tong, Brian Bernards, Maria Elena Tisi, Charlotte Eubanks.

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