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Children's Literature, Childhood Death and the Emotions 1500-1800

child death long

Image: Stoneware portrait by her father of Lydia Dwight (d. 1674) on her deathbed.  © British Galleries

Date: 5 - 6 December, 2013
Venue: Room 1.33, 1st Floor, Arts Building, The University of Western Australia
RSVP: to Sarah Finn by 25 November 2013. 
There is no charge for registration, but places are limited.

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Although historians from many disciplines have begun the work of documenting the histories of childhood and childhood culture, very little is known about the ways in which emotions relating to childhood were represented to children through the literature and accompanying images created for, about and, occasionally, by them. Currently the majority of work on children’s literature sits outside cognate historical studies. This symposium, co-hosted with the Children’s Literature Unit of Newcastle University, UK, will bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to build links with children’s literature studies through an examination of material relating to the death of children. It aims to develop understanding of how children were taught about, experienced and taught to manage the powerful emotions associated with the death of children – siblings, friends, characters in texts or their own impending death - and how attitudes and responses to a range of emotions changed across time and place. In addition to materials specifically for children, sources of interest include diaries, journals, correspondence, teaching materials, medical treatises, drawings, samplers, ballads, legal papers, instructions for rituals and any other kinds of documents and materials that provide insights into children’s emotional reactions to childhood death and the emotions children’s deaths provoked in others. The symposium will demonstrate the value of putting information about children alongside texts for children.

To facilitate connections across disciplines and to strengthen research through participation, all papers will be given in plenary sessions using a mixture of co-ordinated panels, individual speakers and prepared responses. Video link presentations are possible.

Keynote Speaker: Annemarieke Willemsen, National Museum of Antiquities, The Netherlands.

Confirmed plenary speakers from the Children’s Literature Unit in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, UK:
Matthew Grenby, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies
Kimberley Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature

It is intended to bring a number of papers from the conference
together to create either an edited volume suitable, for example,
for the Palgrave History of Childhood series, or a special number of
an appropriate peer-reviewed journal.