Monday, October 5, 2020

Packing My Bags for Children's Literature Adventures in Sweden

At the start of 2020, I knew the year would be a challenging one for me because of family woes, so I decided I needed not just a bunch of little treats along the way, but at least one HUGE treat. So I submitted a paper to a conference on "Conceptions of Girlhood Now and Then: 'Girls' Literature' and Beyond," to be held at Linnaeus University in Sweden on October 6th-8th. What a wonderful jaunt this would be!

Well, it's still going to be a wonderful jaunt, but now of course, thanks to COVID, the conference is taking place via ZOOM. WAHHH! But also HOORAY, because this makes it even easier for children's literature scholars all over the world to attend. Although many of the presenters are from Sweden, with the USA a distant second, by my count a total of 19 countries are represented. Joining the Swedish and American scholars are scholars from Spain, the U.K., Thailand, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Croatia, Poland, Finland, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Greece, Denmark, and Italy. 

The papers look wonderful. I want to hear them all, but here are a few I've starred on the program: "Black Girls and Their Nineteenth-Century Autograph Albums," "What about the Fat Girl in Fiction?", "Emotional Socialization in Swedish Post-War Literature for Girls," "Meaning of 'Girlhood' in Slovak Children's Literature of Communism," and "Anglophone Constructions of Chinese Girlhood in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century." An intellectual FEAST!!

There is only one small challenge re attending this global conference from the comfort of my home in Boulder, Colorado. The schedule is on Central European time, eight hours later (or is it earlier? I'm never sure how to make sense of these time zones!) than U.S. Mountain Time. This means that the panel I'm on, which is taking place from 9:15-11:45 a.m. Wednesday morning on Swedish time, is taking place at 1:15-3:45 a.m. for me. I am a morning person. I adore getting up early. But 1:15 a.m. is VERY VERY early even for me!

I've decided to consider this a thrilling part of the adventure. So on Tuesday night I'll go to bed at 7:00, just as it's starting to get dark, and set my alarm for midnight. Then - ooh! - I'll wake up when the new day is barely beginning, and be ready to present an hour later. Most of the other panels and talks throughout the conference are at a more civilized time for me: the 1:00 p.m. in Sweden panels will be at 5 a.m. for me, and the 3 p.m. in Sweden panels will be at a most mellow 7 a.m. 

To add to the fun, the conference includes a Pippi Party one evening (well, one late morning for me):  Pippi Longstocking is one of Sweden's national treasures, and one of the the most remarkable girl characters in all of children's literature. The organizers even sent us Pippi candies mailed all the way from Sweden.

So today I'm clearing my desk the way I always do before a big trip. Time to cross off all those pesky little chores so I can set forth on my travel with nothing but eager anticipation of the joys that await me. Because tomorrow morning - VERY early! - I'll be arriving in Sweden!

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