Connecting research regarding age

Despite their shared interest in questions of age, prejudice and agency, the fields of childhood studies, age studies and children’s literature studies remain relatively separate. This is clear from their diverging definitions and uses of terms such as ‘ageism’, ‘aetonormativity’, ‘adultism’ and ‘childism’. In this article, Vanessa Joosen employs the concept of ‘childism’ (John Wall) to point out the benefits that a collaboration between these fields would bring, mainly in terms of researching intergenerational relationships. Drawing on Anne Fine’s The Granny Project (1983), she further shows that children’s books themselves can contribute to the paradigm shift envisioned by Wall. Fine’s novel about four children’s resistance to their parents’ plans to take their grandmother to a retirement home demonstrates a belief in the agency of young readers. The potential for intergenerational understanding that Wall puts at the heart of his concept of ‘childism’ also comes strongly to the fore.

Joosen, Vanessa. Connecting Childhood Studies, Age Studies and Children’s Literature Studies: John Wall’s Concept of Childism and Anne Fine’s The Granny Project.

Barnboken, vol. 45, 2022.

doi: 10.14811/clr.v45.745

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How old is young?

With this essay, Vanessa Joosen wants to contribute to greater awareness regarding age. She argues for more openness about age norms and more dialogue between different generations. To this end, she focuses on people who engage in such a dialogue on a daily basis.
For this book, she interviewed twelve British, Dutch and Flemish authors: David Almond, Aidan Chambers, Anne Fine, Ed Franck, Guus Kuijer, Bart Moeyaert, Aline Sax, Hilde Vandermeeren, Joke van Leeuwen, Edward van de Vendel, Jacqueline Wilson and Anna Woltz.
Most of them wrote books for both children and adults. Joosen specifically went looking for authors who debuted at a very young age or who have a long writing career behind them. How do they manage to bridge that distance?

Joosen, Vanessa. Hoe oud is jong?

Letterwerk, 2022.

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A style for every age

The oeuvres of ‘crosswriters’ or ‘dual audience authors’ who write for both children and adults form the perfect touchstones for research on the similarities and differences between children’s literature and literature for adults. By means of stylometry, a digital research method that aids in studying style, the works of ten Dutch and English language dual audience authors were examined. Are there similarities to be found across the oeuvres of these authors? And are there differences within one author’s books that are targeted at different age groups? To research these questions, the target audience and the publication date were factors that were taken into account. By including interviews with the authors, the researchers also considered the writers’ views on style and readers. The main conclusion drawn from the case studies is that the style of the texts usually correlates more strongly with the age of the intended reader than with the time period in which the texts were written. In other words, books for young readers share more similarities than those for adult readers.

Haverals, Wouter, Lindsey Geybels & Vanessa Joosen. A Style for Every Age: A Stylometric Inquiry into Crosswriters for Children, Adolescents and Adults’.

Language and Literature, vol. 31, no. 1, 2022, pp. 1–23.

doi: 10.1177/0963947021107216

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