“Deliver Us to Normal: Children’s Literature and the Midwest”The 2014 MLA will take place in Chicago, capital of the Midwest, 9-12 January.
This panel will consider the ways Midwestern children’s literature both reproduces recognizable tropes associated with the region and subverts or challenges them, often within the same text. Like the Midwest itself, child characters and child readers are highly contested constructions, in a state of continual oscillation between adult desires for them and their own developing agencies. Located in a geographic and discursive middle, sometimes outwardly simple and often deceptively complex, the Midwest finds a fitting home in its children’s literature, which mirrors its critical concerns.
Topics prospective panelists might wish to address include, but are not limited to:
Please send 500-word abstracts by March 15, 2013 to Kate Slater.
- children’s literature and competing definitions of the Midwest
- the roles of Chicago, Detroit, and other Midwestern urban centers in works for children
- children’s authors who live or lived in the Midwest
- the Midwest as a colony and/or racial and cultural contact zone
- the relationship between written text and pictures about/of the Midwest in children’s literature
- museums and other tourist sites in the Midwest with a relationship to children’s literature, such as the Laura Ingalls Wilder museums in Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin [There are a lot of ’em, aren’t there?]
- depictions of agriculture, farming, and rural life for children