Francophone Women Writers Representing Africa in Children’s Literature (WIF Session)

(Panel)


French and Francophone / Women's and Gender Studies

Anna Rocca (Salem State University)

Often neglected and marginalized within the field of pedagogy, during the last decade la littérature de jeunesse has started to grow exponentially and to attract a wider critical attention. As Elwyn Jenkins sustains, children’s books are a vital source of information on popular culture not only because “they reveal what society wants its children to think about a topic, but because of their simplicity they are rather more frank than they would be if written for an adult audience” (125).[1] In fact, African societies have been using stories to both educate and entertain people; and children have been their first very finest audience.

This panel will examine how women writers and illustrators of the French-speaking world are representing Africa in children’s and youth literature. Participants will explore from a large variety of interdisciplinary perspectives the role of women writers and illustrators in reshaping the image of Africa for present and future generations. Some questions might include: how do women writers and illustrators represent Africa and gender roles in children’s and young adult literature? Are there any recurring themes, settings or illustrations? Who is the target audience for this literature? How do those representations aim to effect personal, social and/or cultural transformation? Does Africa stand for a place, a state of being, a belonging, or other? Are oral traditions of story-telling waived into modern tales? How women’s narratives interrelate with the physical Africa, its landscapes, flora and fauna, myths, gender roles, (post)colonialism, globalization, war, and economic exploitation?


[1] Elwyn Jenkins, National Character in South African English Children’s Literature, New York: Routledge, 2006.

This panel examines how women writers and illustrators of the French-speaking world are representing Africa in children’s and youth literature. Participants will explore from a large variety of interdisciplinary perspectives the role of women writers and illustrators in reshaping the image of Africa for present and future generations. Some questions might include: How do women writers and illustrators represent Africa and gender roles in children’s and young adult literature? Who is the target audience for this literature? How do those representations aim to effect personal, social and/or cultural transformation? Are oral traditions of story-telling waived into modern tales? How do women’s narratives interrelate with the physical Africa, its landscapes, flora and fauna, myths, gender roles, (post)colonialism, globalization, war, and economic exploitation?