Call for Papers: Conflict in Children’s and Young Adult Fiction

A call for papers for a forthcoming conference on Conflict in Children’s and Young Adult Fiction at the University of Bedfordshire has just been announced – and comics and graphic novels will be on the agenda.

The Hockliffe Conference: Conflict in Children’s and Young Adult Fiction is a one-day conference on 6th September 2012 at the University of Bedfordshire, Polhill Campus, Bedford.

Writers of children’s and young adult fiction have never shied away from writing about conflict faced by children whether it’s the conflict of a world war in The Silver Sword, published in 1956, or inter-tribal conflict in East Africa in Little Soldier (1999) – both explored at last year’s exhibition, ‘Once Upon a Wartime’, at the Imperial War Museum – generational conflict such as that experienced by Mossy Trotter (1967) or intra-racial conflict faced by the eponymous Rani and Sukh in Bali Rai’s book (2004). All children face conflict at some time in their lives and this conference explores the way in which this is represented in children’s and young adult fiction.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Bali Rai. Born in Leicester, Bali Rai writes about the harsh realities faced by children and young adults and his books have been short-listed for a number of awards including the Booktrust Teenage Prize. His third novel, Rani and Sukh, is now a GCSE set text.

Academic contributions to the conference could include the following issues:

  • Inter-generational conflict
  • Conflict within families
  • Global conflict
  • Racial conflict
  • Conflict between friends
  • Children coping with death and loss
  • Gender conflict

Approaches might include

  • The history of conflict in children’s and young adult fiction
  • The representation of conflict in:
  • picture books
  • comics
  • graphic novels
  • fiction and non-fiction
  • film and media adaptations
  • computer games
  • blogs and new media
  • The benefits of using conflict narratives in the classroom

This list is not exhaustive and abstracts dealing with any form of conflict will be considered.
Abstracts of 250 words for 20 minute conference papers should be sent to the organisers as a Word attachment to ( together with a brief biography by 19th April 2013. Presenters will be notified by10th May 2013.

The conference is titled the Hockliffe Conference in honour of a local bookseller, Frederick Hockliffe, whose son donated his collection of early children’s books to what was then Bedford Training College in 1927. This comprises over a thousand rare books dating from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century, mainly between 1740 and 1840. Its importance is indicated by the fact that it formed the basis of a major research project, funded by the AHRB, between 1999 and 2002. The website for the collection is currently housed at De Montfort University, in the Centre for Textual Studies, and was most recently reconfigured and updated in 2012 (

In 2010, the Collection was augmented when Hockliffe’s granddaughter made a further donation of books from her own collection.

The University also holds a collection of over 200 copies of versions of ‘Cinderella’ which was donated to the Library in August 2012. Most are from the twentieth century, but about half a dozen are rare nineteenth-century editions. This wonderful collection of copies of the most popular of all fairy stories (first published in English in 1729, but of much more ancient origin) further enhances the position of the Library as a leading resource for the study of children’s literature.

• Contact details: The Hockliffe Conference, c/o Dr Clare Walsh and Dr Nicola Darwood, Division of Performing Arts & English, University of Bedfordshire, Polhill Avenue, Bedford MK41 9EA Email:

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