Monday, June 20, 2011

Forty-Eight Hours

In forty-eight hours I'll be on my way to Roanoke for the Children's Literature Association conference, and then heading from there up to New York City for what promises to be a wonderful symposium on philosophy for children held at Columbia Teachers College. So I have two days to do everything I need to do before this eight-day trip.

I'll meet with my two children's book mentees, Peggy and Susan. Peggy and I will discuss the stunning finish of her middle-grade novel-in-progress, which I had the chance to read yesterday evening. Susan and I will plan together the stunning finish of hers.

But the main thing I have to do before I leave is write a paper for an edited collection on philosophy and children's literature, for which I submitted an abstract a year ago. My paper is on a Nietzschean reading of The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. Each year when I teach Nietzsche in my Intro to Ethics class, I read my college students The Rainbow Fish (with an appropriate high squeaky voice for the little blue fish and deep resonant voice for the wise old octopus), and then I tell them, "Now we're going to talk about why Nietzsche would hate this book." We then examine how the book seems to glorify "slave morality," the "green meadow happiness of the herd."

So I have a good start on the paper. But I'm not quite sure how to fill out that good start. I just read over my four-page abstract, and while I liked it well enough, I also have the fear that it says just about all that I have to say on this subject. But I have to fill it out somehow into a respectable-length scholarly paper.

Oh, well. As Roxanne says to her tongue-tied lover, Christian, in Cyrano de Bergerac, after he manages to stammer out only "I - love - you": "You have your theme: improvise! rhapsodize!" So today and tomorrow I'll be improvising and rhapsodizing about The Rainbow Fish.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I wish I could attend your Rainbow Fish class. I've always despised that book. I could never understand why tearing off part of your body to give it to others who desire it would be a good thing.

    I've heard you talk at the MO Lit Fest with both of my children, and just found out about your blog from my friend, April Armstrong. I will send my high school senior & aspiring writer to take a look.