Volume 1, Issue 1 (July 2013; updated February 2014)
We are thrilled to present to you the inaugural issue of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed… experience! You see, we hesitate to call The Unjournal of Children’s Literature a journal; it strives to be more interactive than a traditional journal and encourages and embraces developing ideas and emerging voices in the field of children’s literature. With the multitude of amazing traditional journals already extant in the field, we wanted to offer something slightly more alternative—an unjournal, if you will.
The idea was born among a group of graduate students at San Diego State University in Fall 2012, who were driven by the need to create a sustainable community of children’s literature scholars, students, and enthusiasts. In particular, we saw this as a way to introduce graduate students and up-and-comers of the field to the terrain of academic publishing. Feeling that the discipline of children’s literature—though young in its own right—could benefit from a fresh, possibly unconventional, approach, we eventually conceived of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature.
We aim to publish works of a single issue over the course of six months, sometimes as individual articles and sometimes as a themed set of related works. The goal is to unravel traditional journaling by introducing new elements to the publishing process, including this rolling system of publishing and the ability to engage socially via Twitter and comments (look around for areas to “Leave a Reply”). Because of the more fluid nature of our ‘publishing,’ we encourage you to follow our journal in order to receive email notifications when new material has been added. This material includes but won’t be limited to articles, book reviews, interviews, and artist spotlights. Artists will find an inviting home here to share their imaginings of childhood and related subjects. So make sure to observe the artwork that is featured across the site – we intend to shine a spotlight on local, aspiring, and established artists with a turn toward children’s literature, children, and childhood.
Establishing this journal has been a transformative experience for our academic and professional understanding of the field of children’s literature. Thus it felt appropriate to incorporate that concept as the theme of our first issue. The articles of the next few months will all circulate around the idea of ‘Transformations’; it provides a most fitting starting point for this venture, both because of the nature of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature as an evolution from traditional academic periodicals and to articulate the variety of up-and-coming perspectives on children’s literature.
The Unjournal is only as successful as its audience makes it, and we hope you will share in the enthusiasm and excitement that we feel in launching The Unjournal of Children’s Literature. We have many promising and inspiring things in store, including an interview with author Pam Muñoz Ryan, so check back regularly to see what else we have brewing over here. We also invite you to share your thoughts, feedback, and insights, as well as consider submitting your work as well.
We hope you enjoy the works presented here, and a very merry unjournaling to you!
What’s New at the Unjournal: July 2013
We thought of no better way to launch our journal than with two interviews with SDSU’s Professor Emeritus, Jerry Griswold, an exemplar for children’s literature scholars. We are inspired by his passion for the subject and the sheer delight he takes in pursuing the curiosities of the field. His passion vividly comes through in this special feature; any fan of children’s literature will be interested in Dr. Griswold’s insights.
The articles touch on the fantastic in some form, whether fairy tales or fantasy novels. In “Subverting Standards and Formulating Fairy Tales,” Jill Coste offers a new perspective of The Governess by arguing that it was subversive in its socio-historical context, even while its content was didactic. By comparing several of the stories within The Governess to specific fairy tales from Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book, Coste shows how Fielding’s intricate plot structure disguised her subversive intents, thereby delivering a popular text that contributed to a change in sentiment about the use of fairy tales to both delight and teach the child reader.
Alya Hameed’s piece,“Trapped by Transformation,” addresses the evolution of feminine identity in the middle-grade fantasy series The Stoneheart Trilogy. In the process, she provides insight to the advancement of and limitations on the female figure in contemporary fantasy, and questions the level of empowerment that young girls have the space, let alone ability, to obtain.
Kelsey Wadman reviews Jack Zipes’ The Irresistible Fairy Tale, pointing out that Zipes’ call for scholars to heed the significance of the fairy tale is inspiring for children’s lit scholars at all points in their careers. Moreover, The Irresistible Fairy Tale demonstrates why there is a need for interdisciplinary work with children’s literature.
This month we are fortunate to share pieces by Sallie Lowenstein, an entrepreneurial artist and author, Christian Jackson, a graphic designer and artist, and Cecilia Polkinhorn, an SDSU literature M.A. student with an art background.
What’s New at The Unjournal: February 2014
Dr. Phillip Serrato’s article, “Working With What We’ve Got,” addresses the apparent scarcity of Latino/a representation in children’s literature by directing attention to the lack of awareness of existing Latino/a books. In response to a 2012 New York Times article, Serrato argues teachers, librarians, parents, and scholars must also make more deliberate efforts to search out those books that do include these representations.
In “Transformation of the Mother Figure in Chicana Children’s Literature,” Megan Parry argues that varying representations of mother figures in recent Chicana children’s literature forces the child reader to acknowledge the complicated position this female figure holds in Chicano/a history and culture. By looking at various texts from Gloria Anzaldua, Silvia Gonzalez S., and Pam Muñoz Ryan, she is able to chart a diverse history of mother characters, both fantastic and realistic.
The editors of The Unjournal had the opportunity to interview author Pam Muñoz Ryan in summer 2013. Because of her ties to San Diego State University (as an alumna whose son now attends), the editors considered an interview with Ryan as a chance to feature “one of our own.” Plus, her notable presence as a local accomplished children’s literature author allowed us to focus on the position of children’s literature in San Diego.
We are happy to share new artwork from Kim Holt and Mario Acevedo Torero. Kim Holt is a freelance illustrator based in Maryland. She has a BBA in Marketing and a BFA in Animation, which opened the doorway to real childhood dream of becoming an illustrator. Mario Acevedo Torero is a Chicano/Peruvian ‘artivist’ (artist/activist) from the San Diego/Tijuana area. As an active muralist, painter, and teacher in the community, he works with and inspires members of the Chicano/a community through a number of programs – the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Chicano Park, and the Mundo Gallery & Healing Center.