CfP—Playing with Childhood in the Twenty-First Century, University of Pittsburgh, April 6-7, 2018

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The past decade has witnessed an array of new forms of public and global interest in marginalized children, whether the incredible rise in the visibility of lesbian, gay, and transgender children, the international migrations of refugee children from Latin America and the Syrian conflict, or the over-incarceration and detention in the United States of undocumented and African American children. In a moment when the marginality of childhood and the child’s function as a signal of futurity are being refigured by these global and historical events, this conference seeks papers that reach across the many disciplines that study children to produce new ways of thinking that make sense of and respond to the complexity of their lives.

This two-day conference hosted by the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program, the Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies Program, and the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh will explore how to conceptualize, theorize, and approach research on children and childhood in the rapidly changing context of the twenty-first century. Affirming a conceptual and methodological “play” across fields, a mode of intellectual curiosity and unsettling of boundaries, we invite participants to reimagine the place of the child and childhood in their home discipline, and to reimagine their home discipline through the figure of the child and childhood. There will also be several meet the author book panels featuring scholars with recent monographs on children and childhood.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • C.J. Pascoe (University of Oregon), author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School (2007).
  • Lauren Silver (Rutgers University), author of System Kids: Adolescent Mothers and the Politics of Regulation (2015).
  • Rebekah Sheldon (Indiana University, Bloomington), author of The Child to Come: Life After the Human Catastrophe (2016).

Proposals are invited for papers on a wide range of interdisciplinary work at the crossroads of childhood studies, children’s literature, and gender, sexuality, and race. We particularly welcome submissions in the following areas:

  • The racialization of childhood
  • Queer childhood studies
  • The transgender child
  • The digital and children’s use of new media
  • Girlhood and boyhood studies
  • Children as legible and/or invisible political agents
  • The medicalization of children
  • Blackness and futurity
  • Refugee, immigrant, and undocumented children
  • Segregation and inequity in education

Abstracts of no more than 350 words should be sent to by September 15, 2017.

Conference location: The Humanities Center at the Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Thanks to the generous support of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the Humanities center, there is no registration fee.

Fore more information, contact conference chair Julian Gill-Peterson at