10 November 2008

Jones Conference in Bristol

Through the Child_Lit email list came an announcement that there will be a scholarly and critical conference on Diana Wynne Jones at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, on 3-5 July 2009.

Jones herself lives in Bristol and hopes to attend on Saturday, which is the 4th. Presumably her American fans will simply have to figure out their priorities.

The conference issued this Call for Papers:

On any and all aspects of the writing of Diana Wynne Jones, on her influence and influences. Papers on fan activity and scholarship, TV and film adaptations also welcome. Deadline: 31 January 2009.
The organisers [sic] add that they'll entertain papers on closely related topics, and invite any and all queries about applicability. Those folks:
  • Chris Bell has been involved at committee level in running Eastercon, the annual British Science Fiction Convention for more than fifteen years. She lives in Bristol.
  • Charles Butler writes fantasy for children and is a well known scholar in the field (his book Four British Fantasists was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award). He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol.
  • Farah Mendlesohn has organised and co-organised several academic conferences and been on the committee of an Eastercon. She is currently organising the programme for the 2009 Worldcon. In 2005 she published Diana Wynne Jones, Children's Literature and the Fantastic Tradition. She is a Reader at Middlesex University.
Email addresses for queries to be found on the latter two organisers' websites.


Nathan said...

I've never read anything by Ms. Jones, but I've been meaning to. Are there any particular works of hers that are good starting points?

J. L. Bell said...

I got into her work through Charmed Life, the first of the Chrestomanci books. I think Homeward Bounders and Archer's Goon, both standalone books, are other good starting-points.

Other fans adore Howl's Moving Castle, which started its own series, and I confess I haven't read that one yet.

Libby said...

Howl's Moving Castle is terrific--very different from the Miyazaki movie based on it, though I like both. I also think her version of Tam Lin is a good one--it's called Fire and Hemlock. And you can start the Chrestomanci books anywhere, really, which is a nice thing in a series.

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, one can also start Chrestomanci series with The Lives of Christopher Chant or Witch Week. But I think the other titles depend on knowing certain facts about the characters from the start.

The Pinhoe Egg in particular strikes me as being written to fit into a beloved series. It returns to several established characters, but it doesn't change their situations. Instead, the book adds more young characters to the Chrestomanci community, like more children getting to move to the Emerald City.

Richard said...

I second your comments about where to begin with Jones -- Charmed Life is where I started too, and it certainly turned me into a devotee!

Just wanted to add that Chris Bell is a terrifically generous person who went out of her way to befriend and help me (an almost complete stranger) several years ago despite my having done nothing to deserve such generosity, and I know she's also a longtime friend and helper of DWJ. If she's involved with organizing this conference, it will be good.

Mordena said...

John, seriously -- you haven't read Howl yet? Or Fire and Hemlock? How about the Dalemark books? What the heck ARE you reading??

J. L. Bell said...

I knew I'd catch hell for admitting I haven't read Howl's Moving Castle yet. I got bogged down in Dogsbody, and came away feeling fonder of the Jones books rooted in a "real," non-magical life, at least at the start.

Archer's Goon, A Tale of Time City, Eight Days of Luke, The Ogre Downstairs, others: they start in a landscape of council estates and semi-detached houses, where magic is something other people do (if any).

Mordena said...

Fire and Hemlock is a marvelous book where things start in the "real" world, and magical events can usually be interpreted in non-magical ways.
I'm just saying.

J. L. Bell said...

I own twenty-seven Diana Wynne Jones books, but not Fire and Hemlock.

(Ah, because it's not in print.)

Mordena said...

(you do, however, have a friend who might lend you a copy)