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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Children's Literature Children's Lives research seminar: Alison Waller, Young People and YA Fiction in the Time of Covid-19 (Thursday 28th October 5:00-6:30 pm)

When: Thursday, October 28, 2021, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Where: Hybrid: GC203, Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London and online., QMUL Mile End Campus

Speaker: Dr Alison Waller (University of Roehampton)


Researchers have argued that reading has provided ‘refuge’ for young people during the Covid-19 pandemic (Clark & Picton 2020), but there are still concerns about adolescent mental health following this period of disruption to ‘normal’ life. There are signs that the crisis is in retreat in the UK, but the future is uncertain. In this talk, I will discuss my British Academy-funded ‘Reading for Normal’ project, which offered enthusiastic teen readers a temporary community for talking about their own lives in relation to YA fiction during a period of lockdown. I will argue that reading contemporary British realist novels offered these young people recognisable versions of their own pre-pandemic worlds, and that exploring moments of ‘ordinariness’ together benefited them in various ways. I will also interrogate the notion of ‘normal’ and suggest ways that reading YA fiction might help enthusiastic teen readers do the same.

Dr Alison Waller is a Reader in Children’s Literature, English and Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. Her latest monograph, Rereading Childhood Books: a Poetics (Bloomsbury 2019) examined how adults negotiate relationships with books from their pasts and she is now collaborating with schools and young people to create digital YA reading communities for her Covid-19 related project, ‘Reading for Normal.’

This event will be a hybrid event: please select whether you will be attending in person or online.

In person: GC203, Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London.

Online: the Zoom link will be sent to you the day beforehand.

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