9.00 – 10.00      Registration 

Welcome – Justine Shaw

10.00 – 11.00    Opening Keynote: Dr. Natalia Cecire (University of Sussex)

“Overthinking It in the Hundred Acre Wood”            

11.00 – 11.15      Coffee

11.15 – 12.45      Panel 1: The Defiant Child

Dr. Jana Funke (University of Exeter): Modernism’s Queer Child: Bryher, Boyhood, and the Adventure of Development

Dr. Ben Nicholls (King’s College London): Reproduction Line: Making Children in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Elly McCausland (York): ‘The Ill-Made Knight’: Childhood Trauma and Daydreams of Chivalry in Modernist Arthuriana for Children

Helen Tyson (Queen Mary University): ‘Little Mussolini’ and the ‘parasite poets’: Modernism, Psychoanalysis, and ‘the Child’

12.45 – 13.45      Lunch

13.45 – 15.00      Panel 2: The Child and the State

Dr. Beryl Pong (Cambridge University): Semicolonial Filiation: Katherine Mansfield and the Short Fictions of Childhood

Dr. Veronica Barnsley (Sheffield University): ‘As sweet as can be’: Modifications of the Child and Mother in Anti-colonial Women’s Writing

Hannah Proctor (Birkbeck University): Children of the Revolution: The Soviet Child and the Modernism of Reality

15.00 – 15.30      Coffee

15.30 – 16.45      Panel 3: The Inscrutable Child                                                     

Dr. Daniela Caselli (University of Manchester): Fluffy Bunny Modernism: The Child in Modernist Experimental Fiction (Woolf, Joyce and Beckett)

Katherine Kruger (University of Sussex): Games and Play in the Work of Elizabeth Bowen

Dr. Joe Kennedy (University of Sussex): ‘He spoke simply, and without innuendo, as one stating a fact’: Henry Green and John Wyndham’s Affectless Children

16.45 – 18.00       Closing Keynote: Prof. Douglas Mao (John Hopkins)

                              “Childhood’s Ends”         

18.00 – 19.00      Wine Reception

Please click the link for a printer friendly version of the Modernism’s Child Conference Schedule.


Call for Papers

Modernism’s Child
One-Day Conference
April 20th 2015
Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex

Keynote Speakers: Professor Douglas Mao and Dr. Natalia Cecire.

In 1802 William Wordsworth famously declared, “The Child is father of the Man”.  Some 100 years later Sigmund Freud would bring new relevance to this statement with his burgeoning psychoanalytic theory of the determinative nature of childhood. The 1920s saw a wealth of intellectual development theorists, among them John B. Watson, whose Behaviorist work famously produced the controversial ‘Little Albert’ study of 1920. Then, in 1952, phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty delivered his lectures on Child Psychology and Pedagogy at The Sorbonne, exploring childhood from a standpoint that attempted to articulate and examine the alternative academic points of view at work in child development studies. Now, in the early twenty-first century, it is possible to distinguish ‘Philosophy of Childhood’ as a recognisably independent field of enquiry within mainstream philosophy.

Taking inspiration from Merleau-Ponty’s desire to approach the question of childhood from multiple standpoints, this conference aims to explore literary representations of childhood in modernism. Things we may consider include why what Katherine Mansfield called in her journal the “rage for confession, autobiography, especially memories of earliest childhood” was so prevalent in modernism? How reading the contemporaneous work of psychologists and sociologists can affect our understanding of literary discussions of childhood, thereby querying what it means for modernists to write the child at a time when childhood itself was undergoing both radical theoretical and practical changes? In what ways the modernist desire for “newness”, youth, and innovation is captured by the style, form, and breadth of its literary engagement with children and childhood? Particularly, how the techniques of children’s literature or the use of childish language operate within modernist texts produced both for children and adults? In addition, how the visual arts of the era respond to the question of childhood and, moreover, what reading the visual arts and the literary arts as being concerned with a similar project to explore childhood does to reveal each discipline’s engagement?

Please note that the Call for Papers for Modernism’s Child has now closed. Please check back soon for the programme for the event.