CFP: Horrifying Children: television, literature and popular culture from 1966-1998

Robert Edgar, John Marland
York Centre for Writing
St. John University, York
Stichtag: 02.03.2020

There has been an explosion of interest in the impact of children’s television and literature of the late C20th. In particular, the 1970s and 1980s are seen as decades that shaped a great deal of our contemporary cultural landscape. Television of this period dominated the world of childhood entertainment, drawing freely upon literature and popular culture, and much of it continues to resonate powerfully with the generation of cultural producers (fiction writers, screenwriters, directors, musicians and artists) that grew up watching the weird, the eerie and the horrific.

The proposed symposium aims to go beyond mere nostalgia and investigate the influence of the often ‘strange’ material that featured so prominently as part of the common currency of childhood experience in these years. One starting point will be the work of Mark Fisher, who identifies the weird and eerie as culturally significant in that ‘they allow us to see the inside from the perspective of the outside’ (2016).

We will be drawing on a range of work in this field: publications such as Scarfolk Council and Scarred for Life (celebrating the 70s and 80s), the recent republication of the 1977 published Usbourne book Ghosts (with its foreword by Reece Shearsmith citing its influence on him and therefore on The League of Gentlemen and Inside No.9.), and the recent Folk Horror revival. This symposium will examine televisual, literary and popular culture artefacts, the context in which these artefacts were produced and their legacy on the contemporary mind.

This book is intended to span academic and popular responses and we would welcome contributions from academics, practitioners, broadcasters, writers and fans. Proposals can be for critical papers, creative responses, memoirs, memories, mixed-mode presentations, photo essays or submissions that blur the boundaries.

Children’s television programmes will be at the heart of the book, but we are interested in the relationship between television and:

  • Literature
  • Heritage
  • Popular culture (such as board games)
  • Magazines
  • Popular music
  • Theatre

We would also be interested in proposals for chapters on texts such as Scarfolk Council, which seek to represent this period now.

Abstracts should be 200-250 words. (Chapters to be either 2500 or 5000 words)

Themes could include:

  • Heritage: an Edwardian childhood in the 1970 & 1980s
  • National identity/identities
  • Adaptation and the interplay between text and image
  • The threat of …
  • Impending war and destruction
  • Watching what we shouldn’t have seen
  • The weird amongst the ordinary
  • The wiccan and supernatural
  • Hauntology and the haunted
  • The pagan and sacrifice
  • The folk horror revival
  • Other dimensions
  • The rural vs the urban
  • The legacy of post-war urban landscapes
  • Science-fiction futures and dystopia
  • Signals of ecological breakdown
  • Adults as failures and the collapse of authority
  • Adult fear to children’s fiction
  • Innocence and the adult world
  • The alien within

Submit proposals to by noon on 2nd March 2020

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