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New book about the Arctic as portrayed in children's literature

Image: Mostphotos

Published: 2020-02-14

FEATURE In the beginning of March the book 'The Arctic in Literature for Children and Young Adults'. We have interviewed one of the books editors, Maria Lindgren Leavenworth, representative for the Humanities faculty in Arcum's board, and associate professor in English literature.

Text: Oscar Sedholm

How did the idea arise of writing a book about children's literature?

My co-editors Anka Ryall and Heidi Hansson have previously led and participated in the projects Arctic Discourse and Arctic Modernities which both resulted in anthologies. Books for children and young adults fell outside the scope of those projects and we found that there was a lack of systematic research into how fiction about the Arctic changes over time. In this anthology, we consequently wanted to have a clear focus on how the Arctic, from the nineteenth century until today, is represented in books aimed at a younger audience. 

What is the book about?

The contributions, by fourteen researchers from Europe and North America, target different time periods, and various genres and themes in fiction in order to give a comprehensive image of literature with an Artic focus for and about children and young adults. Historically, the Arctic has been conceived of as a geographically uniform area, suited to fantastic and exotic adventures.

Historically, the Arctic has been conceived of as a geographically uniform area, suited to fantastic and exotic adventures.

In realistic narratives, the Arctic climate and environment often function as challenges in children’s transitions into adulthood. And today, the Arctic plays an increasingly important role in stories about climate change. The chapters in the anthology demonstrate that images of the region change when considering narratives from different cultural contexts, written by visitors to the area as well as by authors who see the Arctic as their home.

Has there been any particular challenges along the road of the project?

To give a comprehensive overview of anything is a challenge in itself, and in this case, this pertains to the time period (from the late nineteenth century up until today), the cultural diversity, and the outside/inside perspectives. At the same time, this ambition is what results in the exciting and rewarding cooperation with researchers who approach their material from different starting points.

Where can anyone interested in the book find it in the future?

The book will appear in print and in e-book format. It is part of the Routledge series series Children’s literature and culture, and the publication date is 3 March. It is already available for pre-order at Routledge. On 17 April, we will host a launch party, a cooperation between the Department of Language Studies and Arcum. All are very welcome! 


Participating researchers

Lena Aarekol

JoAnn Conrad

Lill Tove Fredriksen

Silje Gaupseth

Heidi Hansson

Henning Howlid Wærp

Ingeborg Høvik

Tiffany Johnstone

Toni Lahtinen

Maria Lindgren Leavenworth

Kirsti Pedersen Gurholt

Anka Ryall

Johan Schimanski

Silje Solheim Karlsen