Material Girls & Boys: Narrated Fashion in Children’s Media

Iris Dr. Schaefer Announcement
Subject Fields
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Popular Culture Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


Clothing is a daily feature of every child’s life and this significance carries through into the media created for children and young people. From picture books for toddlers that teach the conventions of correct dressing and undressing, to computer games that revolve around dressing an avatar in the best possible way for an occasion, the range of children's and youth media in which Clothing plays a central role is vast. Yet despite the material turn in children’s literature studies signalled by M. Nikolajeva in 2016, there remains little sustained examination of clothing and fashion in relation to works produced for young audiences. This interdisciplinary, international conference seeks to catalyse work in this field and invites contributions spanning a range of primary sources and conceptual frameworks. Contributors invited (individually and together) to consider questions such as:


  • If virtually all works for young audiences involve dress, which are the most significant works and authors/creators and why? (In other words, what does a canon of this material look like?)
  • What is the relationship between fiction and non-fiction in works for young audiences addressing fashion and clothing?
  • How can dress contribute to reception studies and to understanding the afterlives of works for young audiences?
  • What narrative role does dress perform in works for young audiences?
  • What symbolic/ideological role does dress perform in works for young audiences and how is this modulated by gender, age, ethnicity and race?
  • Who are the key actors in the process of narrating fashion and what are their roles and how do they work together (writers, illustrators, directors, costume designers etc)?



  • Clothing, genre and media (fairy tales, film, TV, picture-books, non-fiction, paperdoll books etc.)
  • Narrating and picturing fashion and dress
  • Dressmaking, Sewing, Knitting
  • Dressing-up (as masquerade) and play
  • Nudity
  • Magical clothes (seven-league-boots, camouflage cap or cape etc.)
  • Accessories (from gloves to wigs)
  • Ideological import (morality of and in relation to dress)
  • Dress and fashion in relation to rites of passage and maturation 
  • Dress and heteronormativity 
  • Fashion and gender
  • Wearing children’s literature - dressing as book characters, texts on garments and accessories 



Banz, Claudia: Phantastische Mode. In: Brittnacher, Hans Richard und May, Markus (Ed.): Phantastik. Ein interdisziplinäres Handbuch. Stuttgart/Weimar: J. B. Metzler2013, 271-272.

Barthes, Roland: Die Sprache der Mode. Aus dem Französischen von Horst Brühmann. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1985. [1967]

Bertschik, Julia: Mode in der Literaturwissenschaft. Eine germanistische Bestandsaufnahme. In: Die Wissenschaften der Mode. Hrsg. von Gudrun M. König, Gabriele Mentges und Michael R. Müller, Bielefeld: Transcript 2015 (Edition Kulturwissenschaft 34), S. 97-113.

Bertschik, Julia: Oberflächenästhetik. Die Barbourjacke als zweite Haut in Christian Krachts Roman Faserland. In: Christian Krachts Ästhetik. Hrsg. von Susanne Komfort-Hein und Heinz Drügh, Stuttgart: Metzler 2019 (Kontemporär. Schriften zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur 3), S. 89-96.

Campagnaro, Marnie:  Clothing the Child in Red: A Historical and Comparative Analysis of Italian Visual Retellings of the Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood. Stranae. Recherches sur les livres et objects culturels de l’enfance, 18, 2021. Link:

Field, Hannah: A Few of the Author’s Favorite Things: Clothes, Fetishism, and The Tailor of Gloucester. In: The Lion and the Unicorn 34, no. 1 (January 2010), 17-33.

Field, Hannah: “A Story, Exemplified in a Series of Figures”: Paper Doll versus Moral Tale in the Nineteenth Century. In: Girlhood Stories 5, no. 1 (June 2012), 37-56.

Kuhn, Cynthia and Cindy Carlson (eds.): Styling Texts: Dress and Fashion in Literature. New York: Cambria 2007.

Malewski, Anne: Growing Sideways in Twenty-first Century British Culture. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing 2021 (insbesondere S. 83-102 zum Cross-dressing).

Mary, Diana und Eva Thomas (Hg.): Texts and Textiles, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2016.

McNeil, Peter, Catherine Cole und Vicki Karaminas (Hg.): Fashion in Fiction: Text and Clothing in Literature, Film and Television. London: Berg 2009. Link:

Vaclavik, Kiera: Fashioning Alice: The Career of Lewis Carroll's Icon, 1860-1901. London: Bloomsbury 2019.

Vinken, Barbara: Die Blumen der Mode. Klassische und neue Texte zur Philosophie der Mode. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta 2016.

Wray, Miriam: Kleidung und Altersthematik in Rotkäppchen, Aschenputtel und ihren literarischen Adaptionen.German Quarterly 2021. Link:


We invite interested researchers to submit an abstract (approx. 300 words) with bio-bibliographical information (max. 150 words) till July 15th 2023. Papers (20 Minutes) can be presented in German or English, the working language is primarily English.

Please send your abstracts to: and

Further information can be found on the conference website:



Contact Information

Dr. Iris Schäfer


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