CFP Children and Childhood in the Works of Stephen King

debbie olson Announcement
Missouri, United States
Subject Fields
Film and Film History, Childhood and Education, Literature, Popular Culture Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

CFP: Children and Childhood in the Works of Stephen King



Stephen King is one of the twentieth centuries’ most prolific and well-known American authors. King’s work brought modern horror and the supernatural to mainstream audiences in 1974 with the publication of his first novel, Carrie, a coming-of-age story about a bullied and lonely girl who discovers she has a real and deadly power. One of the defining features of Stephen King’s oeuvre is his use of children and childhood in his novels and short stories. A King childhood is often framed within the horrors of the adult world--the dangers of uninhibited technology, abusive parents, the supernatural, or other strange or frightening circumstances--or the horrors of childhood itself. In a King narrative, children are often left unprotected and vulnerable while facing unimaginable threats. King’s use of child characters within the framework of horror (or of horrific childhood) raises questions about adult expectations of children, childhood, the American family, child agency, and the nature of fear and terror for (or by) children. Childhood in King’s work is often set within the mythos of small town America and the idealized spaces that have become emblematic of a pastoral or “proper” Western childhood. Such myths are then challenged or shattered by events that question notions of innocence, purity, reality, and American exceptionalism. This collection’s goal is to examine childhood throughout Stephen King’s works, from his early novels and short stories, through film adaptations, to his most recent publications. The ways King presents, complicates, challenges, or terrorizes children and notions of childhood provide a unique lens through which to view historically, philosophically, or theoretically American cultural, familial, and adult anxieties about children and childhood.


The editor welcomes submissions that examine children and childhood from a variety of perspectives in the works of Stephen King, including his novels, novellas, short stories, and films or television adaptations of his works. Submissions are encouraged from any discipline, and from multiple theoretical, or philosophical perspectives. International submissions are also welcome. Some suggested topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:


Misfit children

Child as monstrous

Lost children

Child victim/Child as victimizer

Bullying and bullies

Isolated/isolating children

Childhood culture (among children)

Adult anxieties and children

Fear and/in/of children

Children and the supernatural

Child hero/anti-hero

Child savior


Death and the Child



Cruelty to or by children

The American family and the child

The child and authority (school, government, i.e. The Shop)

Play (dangerous and otherwise)



Freaks and the nature of Freakishness

Sacrificial children

Nostalgia and horror

Nature of reality for children



Contributors please send a 300-400 word abstract, full contact information, and a brief biography (30-50 words) to Dr. Debbie Olson at by July 1, 2018.  Full essays will be due by April 1, 2019.

Contact Information

Dr. Debbie Olson

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