Results

We share our research with other scholars and interested readers by means of journals and specialised magazines: Under ‘Academic publications’, you can find each publication and a link to the article in question. You’ll also be able to find transcripts of the interviews Vanessa Joosen conducted with the authors here soon.

Scientific publications

  • 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, Geybels, Lindsey & Vanessa Joosen. ‘A style for every age : a stylometric inquiry into crosswriters for children, adolescents and adults‘.

    Language and literature (2022): 1-23.


  • You have to set the story you know aside

    As with other twenty-first-century rewritings of fairytales, Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron complicates the classic ‘Cinderella’ fairytale narrative popularized by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm for new audiences, queering and race-bending the tale in its decidedly feminist revision of the story. However, as we argue here, the novel also provides an interesting intervention in the construction of age as related to gender for its female protagonists. Drawing on Sylvia Henneberg’s examination of ageist stereotypes in fairytale classics and Susan Pickard’s construction of the figure of the hag, we explore the dialogic between the fairytale revision, traditional fairytale age ideology and the intersection of age and gender in this reinvention of the classic narrative. By focusing on constructions of age, particularly senescence, we demonstrate how complex constructions of older characters might aid in overall depictions of intergenerational relationships, and how these intergenerational relationships in turn reflect historical and cultural impetuses of retelling fairytale narratives.

    Anjirbag, Michelle Anya & Joosen, Vanessa. “You Have to Set the Story You Know Aside”: constructions of youth, adulthood and senescence in Cinderella Is Dead.

    Humanities 11.1 (2022): 25.


  • From diary to debut

    Duet met valse noten (1983) started as a diary when Bart Moeyaert was twelve years old. When it was discovered by an older brother, Moeyaert transformed it into a novel about first love. Young authors who use experiences and desires prompted by real life as material for stories are often considered experts on such matters. Given the fact that they are young themselves, they are said to attract readers in a special way. Texts by young authors are often adjusted and marketed by adults working in the field. For some researchers, such adult interferences impede the authenticity of the young author’s voice. When examining the writing process of Duet met valse noten, it appears that quite a few people had a say in adjustments to the manuscript, including young people. Apparently, Moeyaert himself was not happy with some revisions, although they did influence his development as a poetic writer.

    Joosen, Vanessa. ‘Writing when Young: Bart Moeyaert as A Young Adult Author’.

    European Journal of Life Writing 10 (2021): BB65-BB83.


  • But, grandma, why did you (not) grow stronger?

    Many fairy tale adaptations play with the storylines and the values and norms of traditional fairy tales. Some of these fairy tales have stood at the centre of literary studies, such as Wolf (1990) by Gillian Cross, an award-winning rewriting of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. Feminist perspectives have strongly influenced the fairy-tale rewritings of the past decades, but the intersection of gender with other identity markers deserves more attention. Gender is often interwoven with images regarding age. At first, Cross depicts the grandmother as a cunning, determined woman. But her story also includes stereotypical images of the ‘wise old mentor’ and the ‘incapable little old woman’, for example. Cross thereby leaves the intergenerational collaboration aside that does feature at the end of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ as it was written by the Brothers Grimm.

    Joosen, Vanessa. ‘Rewriting the Grandmother’s Story. Old Age in “Little Red Riding Hood” and Gillian Cross’ Wolf‘.

    Fabula 62.1-2 (2021): 172-184.

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  • Playing with jigsaw pieces until you find yourself

    YA fiction is well known for stories that explore identity and identity change. Aidan Chambers’ Postcards from No Man’s Land (1999) explores such themes by telling the story of Jacob, whose characterisation and development can be considered by means of intertextuality. By looking at which ‘texts’, stories, or socio-cultural narratives have an impact on Jacob’s identity, and by exploring how such jigsaw pieces fit together, his identity can be considered as a text itself, shaped by the intertexts in his socio-cultural environment. This analysis focuses on how Jacob’s process of identity development is empowered through the various intertexts with which he is presented over the course of Postcards’ narrative.

    Duthoy, Leander. ‘A Three-Dimensional Jigsaw made of Pliable Bits: Adolescent Identity as an Intertextual Construct in AidanChambers’ Postcards from No Man’s Land (1999)’.

    Children’s Literature in Education 52 (2021), p. 326-341.


  • Looking for the reader in Joke van Leeuwen’s novels

    Just like people, books can’t always be put into one particular box. Especially when it comes to the status of children’s books and the borders surrounding these books, there has been much debate. Crosswriters such as Joke Van Leeuwen are not put off by such borders, and write for an array of ages: children and adults. However, a digital analysis of a large part of her oeuvre shows that there are differences to be found regarding the books marketed for different age groups. With only a few exceptions, the length of words and sentences rises, and the vocabulary varies more greatly the older intended readers get. There are also less child characters in books for older readers. Moreover, these child characters do not often speak in the books. The image presented of old people does stay roughly the same throughout Van Leeuwen’s oeuvre, based on close readings. The computer doesn’t reveal all about readers and reading. It is, however, a useful tool to discover patterns in a large number of books.

    Geybels, Lindsey. ‘Over (de) grenzen: op zoek naar de lezer in het oeuvre van Joke van Leeuwen‘.

    Spiegel der Letteren 63:1-2 (2021), p. 113-137

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In the media

Interviews