Art to play, un forum où le jeu est maître

Stéphanie Schneider


This collection of posters and essays documents some of the results of an one-day poster session and workshop for early career researchers dealing with young readers in Europe, held within the framework of the international conference “Texts, Forms, Readings in Europe – 18th to 21st Centuries” (Le Mans, France, May 2013). Taking into account the strong link between texts, forms and readings as well as the fact that reading has not remained immutable over the past centuries, the interdisciplinary conference studied elements of continuity and disruption that are characteristic of the uses of texts and of reading practices in 18th-centruy to 21st-century Europe.

Reading per se is indeed a cultural and social phenomenon and an inner process that changes from one society, one individual reader to another. Its history and its various modes have been explored in the last decades by scholars in Book studies and literary theory. Yet, despite the now established principle that the materiality of the book affects readers’ response, a study of the role and effects of the book as an object on children’s, teenagers’ and young adults’ reading practices, is largely overdue. Peter Hunt significant and pioneer contributions, as well as Sophie Van der Linden’s work on albums, have shown that the materiality of reading helps young readers to grasp the text and images, understand the story and become independent readers who think by themselves. But due to the plurality of approaches and interests that books for children entail, a lot remains to be done to reach a better understanding of children’s reading practices and this publication is only a small contribution to the broad project.

While poster sessions belong to the standard format of conferences in engineering, natural sciences, etc., they are still relatively new ground for the humanities. Nonetheless, we invited early career researchers (MA candidates, PhD students and post-doc) from around Europe to participate in our moderated poster session and were delighted by the wealth of submissions. The poster session offered guests from the academy as well as practitioners from libraries, schools, and literacy institutions input on young readers in Europe in historical and current perspectives, presented by 14 scholars from four different countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy) in French and English. One of the clear advantages of posters is that they present images and text in an integrated form, much like children’s literature does; they are also more “durable” than an oral presentation, for they can be studied throughout the entire conference, much like an art exhibit. The poster session was rounded off by Dr. Alison Waller’s (UK) keynote speech, which presented results from her research on adults re-reading favorite children’s books, underlining the magic that is commonly associated with childhood reading experiences. Waller’s keynote speech formed an insightful and thought-provoking coda to the day’s posters, proving once again that the history of reading (and re-reading) children’s literature is a bountiful field of research.

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Droit d'auteur (c) 2015, Université du Mans

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ISSN : 2108-7121