Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Katherine Rundell on Writing (and Publishing) for Children

Katherine Rundell became a Prize Fellow at All Souls around the same time she finished the manuscript for her first children's novel, The Girl Savage, which was subsequently published by Faber. Since then, these two seemingly antithetical occupations have existed in parallel. At CLYCC's first session for 2011/12, Kate took us through her thoughts about writing in general and writing children's books in particular. Kate's hilarious, erudite talk challenged the perception that writing children's literature is akin to painting watercolours of cats (an opinion that she has encountered in her time), as she touched on, for example, reading as one of the few private activities allowed to the child, the children's book as an apotropaic against the tawdrier products of children's culture, and the robustness of children's publishing throughout the recession. Her talk was also a practical exploration of the vicissitudes of children's publishing, literary agents, writing schedules, etc—meaning that her talk offered perspectives on children's books both idealistic and pragmatic.

Read more about The Girl Savage here, and stay tuned for Kate's new book, also published by Faber and provisionally entitled Across the Rooftops.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Michaelmas 2011 Termcard

Welcome back, everyone! Our first paper is only a week away....

All talks in Seminar Room A of the English Faculty Building (directions) at 5.15pm - and all welcome.

Also please add Matthew Grenby's talk 'Wilkes in Lilliput: On the Politics of Eighteenth-Century Children's Books' on Wednesday 9 November to your diaries. The talk will take place at five o'clock in the Memorial Room at Worcester as part of the Graduate Seminar in History 1680-1850.

Exciting times for children's literature at Oxford!

24 October (Week 3): Advances and Submissions: Hope and Compromise in Today’s Publishing Industry. Katherine Rundell, All Souls College
Katherine Rundell is an Examination Fellow of All Souls and is about to send her second children’s book to press. (Her first children’s novel, The Girl Savage, was published by Faber earlier this year.) She will be speaking about the publishing industry, about the writing process, and about why, sometimes, it is necessary to tie yourself to the desk with a skipping rope.

7 November (Week 5): Hard, Bold, and Wicked: Masculinity and Liminality in Lewis and Tolkien. Dr Anna Caughey, College Lecturer in Old and Middle English, Keble College
In Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the boundaries between adult and child identities are at once blurred and reinforced. Childhood, and boyhood in particular, is presented as a state that can be both transcended and retreated to when necessary, while full physical/social adulthood is generally marginalised. Using Peter Hollindale’s theory of ‘childness’ as a base, this paper examines the ways in which both texts use their fantasy settings to provide younger readers with access to material that emphasises the capability and autonomy of child/child-substitute protagonists while privileging the state of childhood.

21 November (Week 7): Hoodies in Hell. Dr Margaret Kean, Helen Gardner Fellow in English, St Hilda’s College
This talk will consider the recent revision of Dante’s Inferno undertaken by the poet John Agard in The Young Inferno (illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura). Agard’s upbeat renewal of Dante can be usefully compared with Dayle E. Basye’s irreverent take on authority in his Circles of Heck series (Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go is the first volume; illustrator Bob Dob). This talk will contrast the approach of contemporary writers towards Dante with that taken by Kingsley in The Water Babies.