Conceptions of Girlhood Now and Then

Call for Papers

Conceptions of Girlhood Now and Then: “Girls’ Literature” and Beyond

Linnæus University, Växjö, Sweden
6th–8th of October 2020

The history of comprehensive analysis of “girls’ literature” as a genre is an established study in Nordic scholarship. Scholars such as Birgitta Theander, Marika Andræ and Mia Österlund have explored girls’ literature and coming-of-age stories in Swedish-language texts as well as in translated texts. The concept of “flickbok,” which roughly translates into “girl’s book,” is a specific genre label with a defined set of characteristics within a Swedish-language context.

Drawing on this scholarship, we are seeking academic papers exploring the idea of girls and girlhood in children’s literature and young adult literature and film, both in Nordic and in international primary texts. We welcome papers on both historical texts that have been defined as girls’ literature and conceptions of girlhood in contemporary literature of various genres. Scholarship might include what it means to be a girl in specific texts or as demonstrated by particular fictional girls, how girlhood is constructed in texts, how we define “classic texts for girls,” and the ways in which those definitions change over time, or in different countries.

We are especially interested in papers that examine shifting definitions of gender and how it is performed in texts defined as “girls’ literature,” the ways in which texts respond to social issues of girls and girlhood, and how contemporary coming-of-age stories address what it means to be a girl in a specific time and place.

We encourage papers on (but not limited to) topics such as:
• Representations of girls/girlhood in children’s and YA literature and film
• Intersectional approaches to the concept of girls’ literature and girlhood in children’s and YA literature and film
• Adaptations, revisions, and translations of “classic” girls’ books
• Girl-centric communities in children’s and YA literature and film
• LGBTQ+ approaches to the concept of girls within children’s and YA literature and film
• National and international perspectives on and definitions of girls and girlhood, as well as “girls’ literature” as a genre
• Norm-critical readings of children’s and YA literature and film
• Pedagogical approaches to girls/girlhood in children’s and YA literature and film

Associate Professor Nazera Sadiq Wright, University of Kentucky, US: “Black Girls and their Nineteenth-Century Autograph Albums”

Ph. D. Åsa Warnqvist, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books/Linnaeus University, Sweden & Associate Professor Mia Österlund, Åbo Akademi University, Finland: ”The Fat Girl in Fiction: Perspectives on Children’s Literature, Girlhood and Fat Studies”

Ph. D. Maria Margareta Österholm, Stockholm University, Sweden: “Norm Critical Perspectives on Girlhood: The Potential of the Concept of ‘Skev’ in an Analysis of Girls’ Literature”

Roundtable with invited speakers: ”Girlhood in Academia: A Nordic Perspective”
Moderator: Ph. D. Hilda Jakobsson, Stockholm University, Sweden
Participants: Ph. D. Hilda Jakobsson, Stockholm University, Sweden, Ph. D. Birgitta Theander, Lund University, Sweden, Ph. D. Eva Söderberg, Stockholm University, Ph. D. Maria Nilson, Linnaeus University, Sweden, and Ph. D. Malin Alkestrand, Linnaeus University, Sweden

Practical information

Presentation formats
The conference language is English. Academic papers should be accessible to an international audience. The following presentation formats are available:
• 20 minute paper presentations
• 10 minute poster presentations
• 20 minute pre-recorded video presentation which is followed by an online Q and A
• Panels of three 20 minute paper presentations

Submission details
Please submit your abstract to Abstracts should be up to 300 words long. Please include a brief biography of no more than 100 words and indicate which presentation format you prefer. The submission deadline is the 1st of February 2020.

Conference fee
The conference fee is 1500 SEK. In this price, the following meals and activities are included:
• Three lunches
• Five coffee breaks
• Bus transportation to Kosta Glassworks for an outing in the Swedish countryside.

Conference dinner (optional, not included in the conference fee)
• The conference dinner costs 450 SEK. In this price, traditional Swedish food, drinks and a display of the art of blowing glass are included.

Other information
The conference will be hosted by Centre for Childhood Research in Literature, Language and Learning (CHILLL) at Linnæus University in Växjö, Sweden. It will be co-organised with the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books and Dawn Sardella-Ayres, who holds a PhD in Children’s Literature from the University of Cambridge.

We are looking into the possibilities of compiling an essay collection based on a selection of the conference presentations.

For further information regarding the conference, visit our website or send an e-mail to