Fellowship Program 2021 (Part 1)

In 2020 out of 18 invited guests only four were able to visit us due to the pandemic. With that in mind the International Yout Library was more than happy to reopen it’s doors for the first fellowship recipients in 2021. Just as the previous years we were looking forward to the new guests, exciting topics and interesting conversations.

Mateusz Swietlicke (Poland)

mattheuz-1Mateusz Swietlicke from Poland is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wrocław where he teaches at the Institute of English Studies.
From February until April 2021, Mateusz came to the International Youth Library to research for his book about Memory and the images of Eastern Europe in Canadian historical fiction, published after the year 1991.
He says that the collection of the IYL is spectacular and the great amount of sources he found here helped him a lot with his book.
Mateusz first interest in children’s literature began when he was 10 years old and he read the book “Anne of Green Gables”. Since that, children in literature have always been a subject in his academic life. He studied American and Ukrainian Literature and has a PhD in Literary Studies. Since 2015 Mateusz has been regularly publishing about children’s literature and describes himself not only an expert in that but also in popular culture and film.
The next step in Mateusz future is to finally finish his book project and then return to Munich and it’s ‘beautiful places’ ­ as he called it. 

Volha Hapeyeva (Belarus)

VolhaVolha Hapeyeva from Belarus came to the International Youth Library to research for her extraordinary project: The Anthology of non-rhymed poetry for children from different authors in different countries. Volha wrote her first book for children when she was only 13. This book sparked her interest in how other authors across the world work with children’s literature.
Her interest in languages made her study English, German and French and with that, in combination with Volhas studies at the Linguistic University in Minsk, it is no surprise that she calls herself a poet, writer, translator and linguist. Even though Volha’s project is about poetry, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of how poetry works and to increase her poem collection in the future. We are excited to read about Volhas project as she plans to release it in German as well and hope to welcome her back soon at the IYL.

Cristina Gumirato (Italy)

Christina (1)Cristina Gumirato is a PhD Student in education at the Cattolica University of Milan from Italy. She became interested in children’s literature during her work as a primary school teacher and will be holding workshops for MA students about children’s literature in the future. After Cristinas dissertations about Beatrix Potter and Jella Lepman (the founder of the IYL), the Italian came to Munich to write about Children’s Literature in Europe in the post-WWII period with focus on IYL and Italian scholars. In this way, Cristina hopes to give a voice to Jella Lepman’s message and to all the scholars that collaborated with her.

An important statement from Cristina is:

“All literature is born from the human need to tell stories in order to better understand the universe we live in – they help us to live, to survive; they help children to grow up!”

Liliana Santos (Portugal)

LilianaLiliana Santos came across the fellowship program of the International Youth Library in December 2019 during her research for her PhD. But unfortunately the application deadline had already passed. Nevertheless, she did not forget about the IYL and realized her stay as a fellow in May and June 2021.
She has always been interested in literature and has a Bachelor’s degree in English and German language, literature and culture.
Lilianas goal while staying in Munich is to enlarge her theoretical research in general and also to get in contact with the first editions of the books she will analyze for her project about informed children, empowered citizens: silence, voice, gender and racial representations in Effie Lee Newsome, Virginia Hamilton and Jacqueline Woodson.
Liliana states that the IYL was very inspiring and that she is extremely happy and grateful to have worked here.

Fellowship Programm 2020

A Review

In December 2019, the team of the International Youth Library received a long list of names, thesis topics and countries with the information about the following year’s scholarship recipients. Eighteen guests from eleven countries had been invited to visit us in 2020. With a little delay, our first guest of 2020 arrived in February:

Devika Mehran from India.
Her project: Understanding generic development and the construction of childhood in 20th century children’s fantasy. A study of selected British children’s fantasy fiction. It was such a pleasure to welcome Devika to our book castle. Here, she said, she had easy access to specialist literature in large quantities – a lot of which was difficult or impossible to get hold of in her home country. Devika also emphasized that she really appreciated the warm welcome right from day one and the great help in finding everything she needed for her research. In her own words, the IYL offered “a beautiful and mind-blowing experience”.

But then… it doesn’t need to be explained what happened at the beginning of spring 2020. Flights were canceled and borders were closed in the hope of stopping the pandemic. So Devika had to leave us, quite suddenly, earlier than she thought. Many of our guests had to reschedule or cancel their stay and the whole book castle went into a “Little Briar Rose-Slumber“.Only 4 months later, however, in the middle of July, our next international guest was able to visit us.

It was Vera Veldhuizen from the Netherlands, who stayed in Munich until the end of August, together with her husband. She was working on her PhD thesis with the title: The silencing impact of competing truth narratives in children’s literature. Because of all the regulations, she was only able to visit a little of Munich, but fortunately she was here during the „Blutenburger Sommerbühne“ and enjoyed some cultural gems as open air events at the castle. When Vera left, she just said one thing: “I will come back!”  

In the fall, many of our fellows had to cancel their stay, too, which saddened us all very much, even though the reasons were very understandable. Nevertheless, at the end of September and on 1st October we welcomed another two international researchers:

Sofia Venzel from Russia and Jessica Silva from Brazil.
Fortunately both currently live in the European Union (Spain and Portugal respectively), which made it possible for them to travel to Munich during the pandemic. Both enjoyed their stay very much and used the opportunity to do research for their projects. For Jessica it was „Representations of Aging in Children’s Literature. Other cultural and linguistic contexts.“, while Sofia worked on the subject of Children‘s Books on Soviet (Communist) History”. Because so many other fellows had to cancel their visit to the IYL, Jessica and Sofia were offered the chance to extend their visit and both stayed until mid-December. For Jessica and Sofia, it wasn’t an easy time here, because all the restaurants, museums, and other interesting sites in and around Munich were closed. Nevertheless, the whole team of the IYL made a big effort to make their stay as rewarding as possible and in the end, there was even some snow in preparation for Christmas. 

Out of 18 invited guests, only four were able to visit us in 2020. We were happy about every single one of them and hope that their stay with us was unforgettable (in a positive way 😉 ). Although it was a very difficult year, the International Youth Library has still done its utmost to promote and support international research on children’s and young adult literature.

We are looking forward to the coming months, to new guests, exciting topics and interesting conversations.

Participants of the Fellowship Program 2018

January – April 2018

élo für blogÉlodie Malanda, originally from Luxembourg, is an independent researcher and associate at the New Sorbonne University in Paris.  She wrote her dissertation about the imparting of values in children’s and youth literature about Africa. She discovered that many of the authors from France, England and Germany who are willing to write anti-racist books without stereotypes are falling into the trap of a colonialist marked image of Africa. That is why, during her stay at the International Youth Library, she wants to write an annotated bibliography as a recommendation list about sub-Saharan Africa in children’s and youth literature. For her professional future, she imagines several possibilities: Working at university, in publishing or in the cultural sector. P.G.

Mai – June 2018

Maciej für blogMaciej Skowera is a PhD candidate in literature studies at the University of Warsaw. He has an M.A. in cultural studies, an area where he has already dealt with literature for children and young adults and especially fairy tales. Now, he is focusing on English and American Literature. For his project at the International Youth Library, he is analyzing adult and young adult rewritings of children’s literature classics In some of those rewritten stories, the protagonists, like Peter Pan or Alice are now adults themselves and behave accordingly: issues such as violence and sex are often treated there. At the IYL, he found secondary literature that is not available in Poland. But most of all, he found a place to concentrate calmly and without distraction on his dissertation. P.G.

Mai – June 2018

Krzysztof für blogKrzysztof Rybak is a PHD student from the University of Warsaw, Poland. In his dissertation, he focuses on contemporary Polish children’s and youth literature about the Holocaust. He discovered children’s and youth literature through his B.A. course on classical mythology in contemporary children’s books. This led him to a Master in children’s and youth literature and afterwards to his current PHD. In the International Youth Library, he found international books about the Holocaust that he could compare to his Polish corpus, but above all, he got a glimpse of the diversity of international children’s literature thanks to his numerous conversations with the language from the IYL and with scholars from all over the world. É.M.

Mai – July 2018

Mell für blogMell Brites from Brazil follows two careers: In addition to her PhD studies at the University of São Paulo, she also works as children’s books editor. But inboth professions she pursues the same goal: She wants to move the study of children’s literature in Brazil out of the very pedagogical corner and strengthen literary theory. For her PhD project in Brazilian literature, she is studying new trends in children’s literature and the relation between those trends and post-modernism. She concentrates on contemporary literature and appreciates the novelty of children’s literature critique, of whose structure she can become a part. At the IYL, she had access to secondary literature that she didn’t find anywhere else, but what she loved most was how much respect for children’s literature exists – an attitude that she also wants for Brazil. P.G.

Mai – August 2018

Alain Belmond Sonyem (Kamerun)

Alain Belmond Sonyem from Cameroon is an adjunct university lecturer at the University of Yaoundé, specializing in German children’s and youth literature. After having worked on classic children’s authors like Erich Kästner and Christine Nöstlinger, he dedicated his PHD dissertation to the representations of Africa in German contemporary children’s and youth literature. During his stay in the International Youth Library, he examined the way German children’s and youth literature about Africa was used in the school curriculum in Germany and Cameroon. He also seized the opportunity of his stay in the IYL and the easy access to secondary literature to write an article on the Swiss publisher house Baobab. É.M.

June – July 218

francis für blogFrances Bottenberg came from the USA to the International Youth Library for two reasons: first of all, she is interested in philosophy for children and wanted to use the resources of the IYL to familiarize herself with the medium of the picture book: She was not only interested in the many books from all over the world, but also in the library staff’s expertise. The second reason was her job as translator of the White Ravens catalogue which she has been doing for over ten years now. She wanted to get to know the people behind this project. During her stay in Munich, the lecturer in philosophy from the University of North Carolina focused on the question of what makes picture books philosophical and how illustrators and authors work to create a philosophical meaning. Also valuable for her work were the talks with the highly qualified international guests of the library. P.G.

June – September 2018

FatemeFateme (Neda) Farnia is an Iranian researcher, who created a model to study empowerment in young adult fiction. During her stay in the IYL, she applied this model, which she originally developed in her PHD dissertation, to selected picture books of the White Ravens Catalogue. As a scholar, she was thrilled with the large amount of secondary sources in the IYL and, as a bookworm, she took great pleasure in reading a lot of picture books, poems and young adults novels she had access to in the library. But most of all she’s grateful for having met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world, whoshared her passion and her belief in the power of Children’s Literature to change the world. É.M.

June – August 2018

XaviXavier Mínguez-López’ interest in children’s and youth literature goes back to his twenties, when he started writing children’s and youth books in Catalan. He also worked as a lecturer for children’s publishing houses and now he’s an assistant professor at the University of Valencia. His field of research ranges from Literary Education in general and Children’s Literature in particular to animation and interdisciplinarity in arts education. In the International Youth Library, he worked on diversity – especially cultural diversity  – in visual books of the White Ravens Selection in Spanish, English, German, French and Italian. He hence continued the research he did for his PHD about Interculturality in Catalan children’s and youth literature. He’s happy to have found every book he was looking for and to have collected a lot of material that will be a rich resource for future scholarly works.  É.M.

July-August

VassiliVasiliki Vasiloudi from Greece combines her experience as a primary school teacher with her position as an adjunct university lecturer of children’s literature and history of childhood at Democritus University of Thrace: alongside her research and her teaching activity she’s giving workshops at a children’s library and blogs about children’s literature. At the IYL she continued a research project on Fine Arts Museums in picture books (which she started with her colleague Laura Viñas Valle), examining under which terms certain artworks become adapted in picture books. In the library, she didn’t only find an international sample of picture books that allowed her to have a more inclusive perspective on her subject, she also encountered a truly international environment that fostered academic solidarity and promoted high standard research.    É.M.

July- September

wafa für blogWafa Mezghani is an English teacher at ISET in Tunis, Tunisia. She’s also a writer and a translator of children’s books and the president of the Tunisian section of IBBY. For her research project at the International Youth Library, she examines gender representations – and especially the portraying of women – in the White Ravens Selection 2017 and 2018. Her goal is to transmit the results of this research to publishing houses, authors and illustrators in Tunisia, in the hope that Tunisian children’s and youth literature will diversify its topics and representations in the future. What she loves about IYL, are the people: the librarians were very helpful, the lecturers and her contact person, Petra Wörsching, didn’t just give her bibliographical advice, but also offered various recommendations for the cultural program. She got to see Neuschwanstein, the Christmas markets and she even participated in Munich’s cultural life by reading a French picture book to German children during the international winter stories event at the IYL! É.M.

August – September 2018

Christine Bellen’s love for children’s and youth literature manifests itself in various ways. Aside from her academic activity as an Assistant Professor at Ateneo de Manila University in Philippines, she also writes short stories for children, as well as scripts for films, theater plays and musicals for kids. Her creative work is nourished by her research: hence she transformed the Filipino short stories of “Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” (“The Stories of Grandmother Basyang”) into picture books and into a musical play after having examined them in her Master studies. In her dissertation, she studies the topos of mountains in contemporary children’s literature of the Philippines. During her stay at the International Youth library, she explored the possibilities of a collaboration between picture books and theatrical plays, examining if there are elements that permit particular children’s books to be transformed into a theatrical play. Her stay at the IYL confirmed her belief that children’s books are a real treasure to mankind. She also greatly enjoyed the discussions with the other fellows and now feels enriched by the knowledge and the culture of everyone of them. É.M.

September – December 2018

Phil für blogPhilip Nel, University Distinguished Professor of English at Kansas State University, is convinced: what we read as children shapes the way we see the world! Thus the American scholar of South African descent is particularly interested in diversity in children’s and youth literature. After having worked on racism in American children’s literature, he came to the International Youth Library to explore the German discourse about multiculturalism through German picture books. During his time in Munich, he also explored the area, visiting Munich’s museums and historical sites, enriching his research with this cultural and historical knowledge. He loved the international character of the library, embodied in its collection as well as in its staff and fellows. Meeting people from all over the world expanded his own perspective as a scholar and developed deep friendships that continue to enrich his life. É.M. 

September – November 2018

sabah für blogSabah Aisawi is an associate professor of children’s literature studies at Imam AbdulRahman bin Faisal University in Saudi Arabia. After working on subjects like animal stories of the 19th and 20th century, national identity in picture books, disability literary studies, her current research is dedicated to immigration in picture books. During her stay in the International Library, she focused more specifically on the representation of Syrian refugee children in Arabic, English and German picture books. At the IYL, she highly appreciated the easy access to critical work. She also used her stay at the IYL to connect with the Arabic-speaking community in Germany, giving talks about Arabic children’s books at the Kulturzentrum für arabische Sprache und Kultur München and at the Arabic library in Berlin. É.M.

Disappeared books of Socialist Yugoslavia

Report on the rare findings
by Dr. Lilijana Burcar, guest researcher at the International Youth Library
in summer 2018

The central part of my research, which I conducted at the IYL between 1st July and 30th September 2018, focused on poverty in children’s literature and the differences in approaches to this issue between realistic fiction of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and mainstream Anglo-Saxon children’s literature. I consulted more than 600 books and the findings were not surprising. Unlike their Western counterparts, Yugoslav authors in their socially engaged realist fiction paid special attention to systemic investigation of the root causes of poverty, drawing attention to the structural inequalities and the need for their systemic overcoming. But my research into socially engaged children’s literature of the Yugoslav authors also yielded another, a very worrisome and shocking result. Upon my scouring of the IYL archive, it quickly became apparent that the majority of the holdings the IYL has of Yugoslav children’s literature produced between 1945 and 1989 in general – that is, regardless of the topic it deals with – can be today already classified as precious rarities despite the fact that only twenty-five years have elapsed since the dismantling of the socialist Yugoslavia. This is due to the historical revisionism and deliberate, ideologically-driven retrospective distortion of socialist reality which followed in the wake of the destruction of Yugoslavia after 1991. Historical revisionism is one of the ideological axes of the newly created mini capitalist states in the Balkans. It has rested on an implicit or explicit smear campaign against the achievements of socialism, thus also providing a platform for the justification of the nationalistic enclavisation of the Balkans after 1991. To justify the imposition of the new capitalist order, which is based on the combined promotion of capitalist social relations and nationalism, everything associated with socialism, including children’s literature, has been removed from public libraries (and archives). This happened either en masse overnight, or in some other cases gradually over two decades under the flimsy pretext that libraries are bursting at seams and are supposedly no longer able to accommodate older books for children and young adults while taking on new ones although their production after 1991 has been meagre.

My research shows that the unexpected rarities that IYL holds with regard to the Yugoslav literature produced between 1945 and 1990 can be divided into several categories and subcategories. The main category, however, includes those children’s books that deal directly with the issue of poverty, with the hard working and living conditions facing the majority of people in capitalism be it an industrial or agricultural sector, and with the issue of socialist revolution that turned this reality upside down. These two major strands of children’s literary production were the first types of books that disappeared from public libraries and their archives overnight. This list of disappeared books is headed by a specific subgenre, which includes those children’s books that deal specifically with the partisan movement and the collective effort to bring about the socialist revolution in an organized fight for a better future. In this respect, Yugoslavia amongst others produced a special series of picture books in which the focus is placed on the most important historical battles between the Yugoslav partisans and the Nazi occupational imperialist army that took place between 1941 and 1945. These were the key battles that went down into the annals of WWII history as decisive battles that took place in the Balkans and had wider implications for the way the events turned out at the end of WWII, of course in favour of the Western allies who therefore eventually started supporting the partisan movement. The IYL has a complete first part of this series, which includes four different titles (Užička republika, Igmanski marš, Bitka za ranjenike and Desant na Drvar). In the republics of former Yugoslavia, these are today indeed a rarity to behold. If you go in search of the entire series, this is a mission condemned to failure. If you go in search of individual titles in the series, it is like going in search for a needle in a haystack, the haystack being all of the former republics of Yugoslavia. For example, Desant na Drvar (The Desant on Drvar) is a picture book with accompanying text that documents the Nazi SS parachuters’ attack against the partisan main military headquarters and its leader Tito. The headquarters was stationed in Drvar at the time of one of the last major offensives in the first half of 1944 in this part of the Balkans. With 15.000 copies printed in Sarajevo in 1974 alone, not a single copy from this batch is today held by any of more than 900 public libraries in Slovenia according to the online Cobiss catalogue that covers public libraries in the entire region. In Serbia, only two copies remain and are both held by the National library, in Macedonia there is one copy that can be viewed only on the premises of the National library’s reading room and the same goes for Bosnia and Hercegovina and Montenegro with only one copy still available for viewing on each of the two libraries’ premises. That makes altogether only 5 copies of the 1974 edition, which carried 15.000 copies, still around in five out of six former republics of Yugoslavia. This makes one housed by the IYL in Munich indeed a rarity.

The above is just one of many, that is, hundreds and hundreds of examples. The era of socialist Yugoslavia was the most prolific period in the history of quality children’s literature production in this part of the world. Its authors, illustrators and publishing houses such as Mladinska knjiga and Školska knjiga enjoyed a world-wide reputation with their works fetching many major international prizes at fairs such as those in Frankfurt and Bologna to say the least about TV series they gave rise to and which also fetched major prizes at film festivals across the globe. Yet all in all, children’s (and YAL) books of all kinds, be it picture books, short stories, school primers and novels associated with the socialist period and on topics of all kinds are being systematically made to disappear. They are being eliminated from public libraries’ holdings, with only a few boutique copies still randomly in place and mostly off limit to the general public. It is therefore imperative for IYL to declare its collection of socialist Yugoslav literature a special collection and to digitalise its holdings on the socialist Yugoslav literature, for at least two thirds of which I managed to establish are rarities. By putting these books online, the IYL would not only give them a new lease of life thus ensuring the continuity of their existence but also possibly put them back into circulation among young readers, their parents, and the rest of the adults and scholars. All of us would most certainly benefit from its comeback in these much troubled and difficult times, no matter how numerically modest the IYL collection might be in its actual size.