CFP: Writing a British Childhood in a Global Context? Critical Perspectives on Enid Blyton, Potsdam (15.08.2023)

Stefanie Jakobi Discussion

Organizer: Dr. Aileen Behrendt (University of Potsdam), Dr. Hadassah Stichnothe (University of Bremen), Dr. Stefanie Jakobi (University of Bremen)

Confirmed keynote speakers: Prof. Kim Reynolds (Newcastle University) Prof. Emer O’Sullivan (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

“#TeamBlyton” – With this hashtag, children’s book author Mithu Sanyal joined the defense of Blyton’s legacy, despite her texts’ blatant racism (Sanyal 2023). This strategy of acknowledging the problematic discourses that pervade Blyton’s oeuvre (be they race, class, or gender) while asserting her importance even within 21st-century children’s and young adult media is a common one across national borders and fits current Western debates about cultural accountability. Countless republications, adaptations, and sequels have secured Blyton's place in the transnational literary market. But Blyton’s ongoing international relevance as a popular author has not prompted much academic interest. In fact, her works have been “[l]ong neglected by the academic world” (Pesold 2017: 3) and a critical international perspective has yet to emerge. Despite academic research on Blyton’s representations of gender (Rudd 2000; Lehnert 1992), race (Rudd 2000, Morrissey 2022), and class (Rudd 2000), a critical reevaluation and a broader interdisciplinary and intersectional reading of her works is long overdue.

The planned conference takes Blyton’s continued popularity as its point of departure, inviting scholars of various disciplines, ranging from literary and cultural studies, history, translation studies, media studies, among others, to critically engage with her texts and legacy. At the conference, we will explore Blyton’s reception in different national contexts and translations, the representational strategies of her texts, and the questions they pose to identity categories like gender, class, and race, her constructions of a (post)war English childhood, her narrative composition and formula, her contribution to different genres of children's literature (including the school story, adventure story, and fairy tale), her concerted effort to establish the Blyton brand, and the question of nostalgia as a major influence on Blyton’s continued popularity.

We invite papers dedicated (but not limited) to the following topics:

  • Global perspectives on Blyton
    • Blyton in Germany, France, India…translations, adaptations, sequels
    • How to translate Englishness?
    • Constructions of (national) childhoods within a global framework
    •  Intersectional perspectives on Blyton’s work
  • Questions of class, race, sex, and body in Blyton’s work, the rewrites, and adaptations
    • Contemporary and historical responses to racism, xenophobia, classism, and anti-Romani racism/antiziganism in Blyton’s work
  •  Historical perspectives on Blyton’s work
    • Constructing (Post-)War Britain
    • Food rationing and midnight feasts? – Wartime representation in Blyton’s work
  • Blyton in the classroom?
    • Teaching Blyton’s work in a current classroom setting: Chances and challenges
  • Blyton as a brand?
    • (Re-)Constructing an author?
    • The author as a brand?
    • Biographies and biographical fiction on Blyton
  • Blyton today?
    • Blyton’s reception between literary criticism and nostalgia
    • Tracing her literary influence onto 21st-century Children’s and Young Adult Media

Please send abstracts of approx. 300 words, and a brief biographical statement to, and Proposals by early career scholars and graduate students are very welcome. Submission Deadline: 15th of August 2023.

Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Johannes Schmidt] betreut –