“You're Out of Control!” The Unruly Child in Child

Unruly, wild and loud children are common in children’s literature. Indeed, there seems to be a need to portray children outside parental control, or even of children who rebel against oppressive adult regimes, as in Shockheaded Peter or Pippi Longstocking. One could argue that children’s and YA fiction establishes a zone of freedom where (fictional) children are allowed a measure of freedom. It is of course true that the unruly and anarchic child can be used as a warning, but more often than not the disobedient and troublesome child saves the day. Both Astrid Lindgren’s Emil and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter are rule-breakers who go their own ways, yet they ultimately bring about harmony and redemption.

The unruly child can be seen from different perspectives. Concepts that can open up the notion of the unruly child include: identity, power (not least between adult-child), normativity, body, performativity, animalism, and queer. Some of the questions that beg to be asked are: what is the role of the unruly child in children’s literature? What are the limits of “unruliness”? How close is the state of the wild child to that of animals? Thus, the wild, the loud and the unruly will be the Barnboken – Journal of Children’s Literature Research Spring theme 2014. We welcome proposals and articles in that spirit, and we do so up until:

23 September 2013 (proposals)
25 November 2013 (articles)