Children’s Literature

Lip Gloss & Curling Heat: A Talk on First Kisses & Malinda Lo’s YA Novels

Illustration by Manuela Salvi

Illustration by Manuela Salvi

On Wednesday 18th May, the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL), my research centre at the University of Roehampton, held their annual ‘PhD Day’. This is a day where all of the children’s literature post-graduate research students gather and share a slice of our research from the most recent academic year. The title for my presentation was ‘Lip Gloss & Curling Heat: “First Kiss” Scenes and Malinda Lo’s Young Adult Science Fiction novels’.

For the last 6 months, I’ve been looking at Malinda Lo’s four YA novels: Ash (2009), Huntress (2010), Adaptation (2012) and its sequel Inheritance (2013). While the third chapter of my thesis examines all four novels, this talk focused on close readings from Adaptation. My research overall, as you might have gathered, focuses on lesbian loves stories. As such, I’ve been examining how those love stories are constructed–particularly when the two characters are teenagers who identify as lesbian/bisexual or are in a same-sex relationship. One narrative event that has become of great interest to me is the ‘first kiss’ scene. Thus, the first half of my talk looked at ‘first kiss’ scenes across a selection of lesbian YA novels in my corpus, including examples from The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012) by Emily M. Danforth, Everything Leads to You (2014) by Nina LaCour, and Empress of the World (2001) by Sara Ryan. I then focused on Lo’s novels with close readings of the ‘first kiss’ scenes between Reese and Amber, and Reese and David in Adaptation.

Why are the ‘first kiss’ scenes so important? I’m hoping to post a video of my talk soon so you can join in the conversation, or contact me if you’re working in a similar field. I’m always happy chatting about YA novels with LGBTQ characters!

Butches, Femmes, and Happy Endings: A Talk on Julie Anne Peters

You are warmly invited to

‘Butches, Femmes, and Happy Endings:
A Legacy of Lesbian Pulp Fiction in the Novels of Julie Anne Peters’
Erica Gillingham, NCRCL PhD Candidate, Roehampton University

Wednesday 30th September
1:00-2:00 pm
Fincham 001, Roehampton University

Image via Book Scans

Julie Anne Peters has published more young adult novels with lesbian protagonists than any other YA author. Writing from 1999-2014, her YA novels are stylistically similar—full of melodrama and cliché—to lesbian pulp fiction novels of the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, those novels by lesbian authors hoping to reach lesbian readers in the mid-twentieth century United States, authors like Vin Packer (Spring Fire (1952)) and Ann Bannon (‘Beebo Brinker Chronicles’ (1957-1962)). This talk will compare Peters’ YA novels with the lesbian pulp fiction novels by Packer and Bannon, examining peritextual production, the ‘butch/femme dynamic’, the conventional coming out story, and ‘happy endings’ for the contemporary young adult reader.

UPDATE: My PhD colleague, Anne, recorded my talk for me so I’ve posted it online for you all to watch! I’m new to uploading videos so the quality isn’t the best, but hopefully if you turn up your speakers it won’t be too bad. Thanks for watching!

London Book Fair – Equal Measures panel

On Tuesday 16th 2013, I’ll be speaking on a panel at the London Book Fair — come along!
Gay YA

 

Equal Measures: Achieving diversity and equality in children’s books
Date: Tuesday 16th April 2013
Time: 10:00 – 11:00   
Location: Old Press Office, Earl’s Court 1

Over recent years, the ‘Equal Measures’ event has become a regular attraction at the London Book Fair (Earls Court).  It has explored many aspects of disability and children’s books and speakers have included Julia Donaldson, Francesca Martinez, Michael Foreman, Nick Sharratt and Ros Asquith.

This year’s seminar line-up is another exciting one.  As opposed to focusing purely on disability and books, the event will take a step back to reflect on the state of the children’s book landscape in relation to wider diversity issues.  To what extent do the books we give our children really reflect the diverse society we live in?  Which areas of diversity are still neglected and why?  What are the needs in terms of schools, organisations and families?  What are the challenges for publishers, writers and illustrators?   Which books represent really good examples of best practice and where we can we find more?

Special guest speaker Verna Wilkins will talk about her impact on the book world and a panel of specialists in diversity issues will share their wealth of experience with the book world.

The panel includes book supplier Letterbox Library, diversity consultant and trainer Mark Jennett, writer and academic Erica Gillingham and freelance editor and inclusion advisor Beth Cox.  Chaired by Alexandra Strick.
To come along, simply book to attend the London Book Fair and all seminars are free.
xx