Meet some of our 2019 fellows from ten countries:
March – May
Juan Senis from Spain is a professor of children’s and young adult literature at the University of Zaragoza. In addition to his academic activities, he also writes books for children whenever he finds some spare time. He started focusing on children’s and youth literature after finishing his PhD and is currently working on an international comparison of children’s poetry. Juan, having a keen interest in languages, is well-versed in Spanish, Italian and French literature. He came to the IYL to have access to a wider range of books for a work-in-progress survey, concerning children’s poetry in Portuguese, English and German. As a big fan of texts in verse, he noticed that there are not a lot of publications about children’s and youth poetry. The main aim of his project is to find out if there is a common trend in the poetry from different countries and languages. At the IYL, he did not only find a wealth of international books, but he was also verygrateful for the help he received from the people working here. After the end of his scholarship, he went back to work at the university and intends to publish two articles with the material he gathered at the IYL.
Dao Trung Uyen
Dao Trung Uyen, aka Sophia, from Vietnam is a real “bookworm”. Since her early childhood, she has spent hours and hours in libraries, enjoying the fascination of reading. In 2014, she came to Ilmenau in Thüringen to do a Master’s degree in Media- and Communication Science; during her stay there, she became aware of the lack of children literature in her home country. Convinced that educated children are the basis for creating a better world, she came to the International Youth Library to work on an international comparison: her research project focused on the different ways of presenting the concept of kindness in children’s and youth literature. At the IYL, she loved the warm welcome and the help she received from the people working here and would have loved to spend even more time at the library! After her scholarship, she returned to Passau where her friend lives and will continue to write books for Vietnamese children.
April – June
Angela Yannicopoulou is a professor of children’s literature at the Department of Preschool Education at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). She specializes in picture books. Her current research focuses on book-objects, in other words the many different shapes, sizes, materials and forms of picture books. At the IYL, she mainly worked on accordion or concertina books (aka leporello books) and was very surprised by the huge number of books she discovered here in so many languages! She will use her findings to prepare two academic papers for autumn 2019. In addition, she also went through a lot of wordless books, because she is planning to organize a conference on in Greece next year. She intends to return to the IYL, because she appreciated the well-equipped library and the very helpful staff, and also enjoyed Munich, a city she fell in love with.
Anto Thomas Chakramakkil
April – June
Dr. Anto Thomas Chakramakkil from Kerala, the southernmost province of India, is an associate professor and Head of the Department of English at St. Thomas College in Thrissur. His interest in children’s literature began when he visited the ASRC, formerly the biggest US-library outside of the USA in Hyderabad, where he discovered that children’s literature is a huge field of research. So he decided to write his PhD about “Subversive Ideals in American Children’s Literature” in the second half of the 20th century …His three-month stint at the IYL from April to June as a “Stipi” wasn’t his first trip to Germany. He had already worked on other projects in Frankfurt and Kassel earlier. At the library, he focused on his new project “Ecobuddhist Consciousness in the Children’s Fiction of Michael Morpurgo”, the famous British author best known abroad for his children’s novel Warhorse (1982). Whenever I met Anto at the IYL, he was always smiling, friendly and ready for interesting conversations, unless he was deeply buried in his books. He fell in love with Munich, not only because nature is so close to the city and the IYL, but also because the people here work with great dedication and passion. There was only one thing he would have wished for: a coffee machine for the Stipis J.
Ana Margarida Ramos
May – June
Ana Margarida Ramos is an assistant professor at the University of Aveiro in Portugal. She came to the IYL to work on the material aspects of picture books. For her project, she analyses aspects such as book size, front and back covers, credit pages, bindings, dusk jackets and other peritextual features, which are important parts of the story and can transform books into works of art. Her analysis focuses on picture books in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, Catalan, Galician and English from the IYL’s White Ravens Catalogues of the past ten years. This #surfmother loves to travel and to read (just another form of travelling for her). Spending two months during her sabbatical year at beautiful Blutenburg castle for research, is a dream come true, and to her it feels almost like jumping into a fairy tale: her arrival was the time when the first “Ugly Ducklings” (i.e. baby swans) were born! She appreciates the helpful people working at the IYL, as well as the contact, discussions, and travels with the other international “Stipis”. In her spare time, she enjoys discovering a lot about Munich and the beautiful landscape surrounding it during her first trip to Germany.
Professor Christopher Kelen, or “Kit” as everyone called him at the IYL, is a full-time poet, author of children’s books and now retired academic from Northern Newcastle in New South Wales / Australia. He taught Creative Writing and Literature for almost 20 years at Macau and has published several volumes of poetry that were translated into various languages. He is living proof that Blutenburg castle is a place to which you want to come back: This is his second visit in less than two years! With the special selection of books you find at IYL he does research on his latest academic work about poetry and ethics of anthropomorphism in children’s literature. This salad-aficionado is a fan of the IYL, and greatly appreciates the culture and helpfulness of the people working here; he even wrote a lovely poem about the library during his first visit. The only things missing that would make IYL an even more perfect work space in his eyes are more comfortable chairs and full-time masseurs :).
June – July
David Jacobson from Seattle, USA, studied East Asian Studies at Yale University and worked as a journalist and a book publisher. He has a special interest in Japan and has worked as an interpreter and translator from Japanese. In 2016, he published his first book Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko about and by a forgotten Japanese children’s poet.
Today he is an independent writer and is working on a biography about the founder of the International Youth Library, Jella Lepman. At the 2017 USBBY Conference in Seattle, he learned about Lepman and the contribution she made to Germany after WWII. After reading her autobiography Die Kinderbuchbrücke (A Bridge of Children’s Books), he got intrigued about her life before and during World War II, and especially why she came back to post-war Germany. So a year ago, he started to research her motives and experiences, and traveled to different archives in Europe and the United States to discover more about her activities. He wants to find out where she fits in the international context of emigrated Germans and why she did what she did after a period when books were used for war propaganda. Obviously he came to the IYL to advance his research, and I think it’s not the last time we are going to see him around here!
His family accompanied David during his research journey to Europe and we heard that they also enjoyed Munich. At the IYL he was very grateful that the staff helped him understand the background to Jella Lepman’s work. He also enjoyed meeting other “Stipis” from different countries, who will be helpful for a separate project: The Global Literature in Libraries Project initiative where, as a board member, he tries to increase the amount of literature translated into English.
June – July
Jongsun Wee is an associate professor of children’s literature and literacy education at the College of Education at Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, USA. Originally from South Korea, she completed her PhD in children’s literature at The Ohio State University. A little fun fact about Jongsun: Her interest in the fellowship was sparked in 2015, when she met the director of the International Youth Library (IYL), Dr. Christiane Raabe, at the USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People) conference in Manhattan, where Dr. Raabe gave a talk about the fellowship programme.
During her two-month stint at IYL, she did intensive research on the broad topic of “War in Children’s Literature.” She worked on several projects simultaneously, including the analysis of children’s war experiences in different countries. For this, she took a closer look at picture books included in the IYL’s 2014 exhibition catalog “Guten Tag, Lieber Feind!” (Hello, Dear Enemy!).From this catalog she also wants to translate ten books to make them available for Korean audiences. In addition, she also found Korean picture books about “comfort women” (women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military), that she would like to make available for English audiences. The topic of war in children’s literature is inspired by her own family history, because her parents experienced the Korean War (1950-1953) as children.
At the IYL, Jongsun was known as “Sunny” and you couldn’t find a more fitting name! Always smiling and eager to learn new German expressions. She had only one complaint during her stay, a hail storm trapped her in a train for a long time. Otherwise, she loved every minute of being at IYL and enjoyed the chats with friendly staff and the research fellows from other countries. She really wants to come back to IYL in the near future!
Sara Pankenier Weld
June – August
Half-Swedish, half-American “Stipi” Sara Pankenier Weld teaches Russian Literature and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2019, she benefitted from her sabbatical year to be a guest researcher in Comparative Literature at Stockholm University and to research at the IYL! Sara grew up in different countries, mostly in the US and Sweden, but also in Canada and Taiwan. But even though she moved around a lot, she has one favorite place in the world: an island off the coast of Sweden called Prästgrundet, where her ancestors have lived for hundreds of years. Her interest in children’s literature began with the works of Astrid Lindgren, and after college she received a fellowship to study the reception of Astrid Lindgren in Russia; later this interest figured in her dissertation on the Russian avant-garde. Her current book project Childhood and Indigeneity in Northern Mythopoesis is in its earliest phase and treats children’s literature from North America, Scandinavia, and Russia. It is about the mythmaking a nation relates to its children in order to create a narrative of nationhood. Her research explores how the present and past of indigenous populations in these regions – such as Native Americans, Sami, Inuit, and indigenous Russian minorities – figure in narratives for children through absence or presence, and erasure or strategic visibility.
Being a hiking fan, Sara loved the new places she discovered in Bavaria and nearby! She is grateful for the opportunity to work at Blutenburg castle and for the help of our language specialists and the staff at the library’s reading room, who pulled out a lot of material for her book project. We hope to see you again soon, Sara!
July – August
Vasiliki Vasiloudi from Greece is a former primary school teacher who, since 2017, has been an adjunct university lecturer of children’s literature and history of childhood at Democritus University of Thrace.
This summer IYL staff welcomed Vasiliki to the library for the second time, because she completed the second part of her fellowship that began in 2018 and worked on adaptations of “the Bard” (William Shakespeare) in children’s literature. She found a lot of material in diverse formats at the IYL, especially about Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and about Shakespeare’s life . One of the questions she is interested in is how the works of a writer for adults are adapted and transformed into literature for children. She could also progress in a side project to chart territory on authors, authorship, readers, reluctant readers and picture books.
During her stay, Vasiliki appreciated the friendly environment created by the IYL staff and was happy to meet new international colleagues. She loves the modern city of Munich with its countryside atmosphere. Interestingly enough, Vasiliki was the only person at the Library who didn’t complain about the bad weather in August!
November – December
Karolina Stępień currently splits her time between two Polish cities: Kraków and Warsaw. In Kraków she is a research and teaching assistant at the Institute of Modern Languages at the Pedagogical University. At the University of Warsaw, where she is also working on her PhD thesis, she teaches Spanish and children’s literature at the Institute of Iberian and Ibero-American Studies. Besides Polish (as a native speaker), Karolina speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician. She is a member of the editorial team of the academic journal “Childhood: Literature and Culture” published by the Faculty of Polish Studies at the University of Warsaw. Her research interests include children’s literature criticism and Latin American literature for young readers.
Karolina stayed at the IYL from mid-November until Christmas and she clearly felt that she made a bigger progress in her PhD research during those six weeks than in the past two years. One of the reasons why she decided to come to Munich was that she needed to choose children’s books to constitute the corpus of her project devoted to the dual address problem in contemporary Argentinian children’s literature. Thanks to the easy access the IYL archives offered her to many theoretical volumes that are hard to get in Poland, she also managed to further develop the methodology of her research. That is why she returned home with over fifty pages of notes! Additionally, Karolina is planning to present some results of the research carried out at Blutenburg Castle at two international conferences this year; and she will definitely share her newly acquired knowledge with her students from both Kraków and Warsaw universities.
On one of her last days in the castle, she said that her stay at IYL was like living her very own fairy tale dream, that is now coming to an end.
Anna Wing Bo Tso
Dr. Anna Wing Bo Tso visited the International Youth Library in December 2019. She is an award-winning children’s writer, a regular reading club facilitator-cum-storyteller, and an associate professor of English with over 10 years of research and teaching experience in Hong Kong. The aim of her fellowship at the IYL was threefold: Firstly, in continuation of her PhD, she examined censorship in the modern Chinese versions adapted for children of Pu Songling’s Liaozhai 聊齋 (1740), a collection of horror and/or marvel stories about ghosts, demons, fox spirits, magic, and the supernatural. Her second project focused on the library’s children’s book archive and explored different kinds of fear archetypes contained in children’s picture books, which include fear of the dark, the unknown, the uncanny, body horror, and death. In addition to her research on horror literature, the fellowship visit offered her an opportunity to work on her own new book. A Tale of Two Haunted Universities, is book 6 of Anna’s Hong Kong Stories (2017 – ), a series which has won various prices, such as the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards 2019. The IYL has catalogued the series too, and for that she feels truly grateful.
Learn more about the Fellowship Program