Childhood and Society Seminar: Cold War Literature for Children with Professor Victoria de Rijke (12pm London Time, 11th Oct 2021, free, online)

Abstract: This visual presentation will explore the tensions inherent in producing literature about war for children. It will trace a line of ‘expressive suppression’ from the radical, avant-garde picturebooks of the Cold War period to a later postwar ‘hypomnesia’. I will argue that C21st backward-looking representations of the Cold Warreflect changing political dimensions and ideologies and radically transformed conceptions of childhood over the period, uncovering a pictorial tendency for hypomnesia, glossing over the violence, looking the other way or making light of the horrors, perhaps to exonerate ourselves from responsibility, to cover up or palliate. These will be compared with a range of radical anti-war children’s picturebook images produced towards the end of the actual Cold War period across several regions affected (Maruki’s The Hiroshima Story1980, Briggs’ Where The Wind Blows, 1983 & The Tinpot Foreign General1984, Eco & Carni’s The Bomb and the General1989) where I will argue from Derrida, that where live memory repeats truth itself, hypomnesia repeats the aids to memory, and is thus prone to repetition and suppression. Yet, via aspects of continuity and difference,Derrida argues for a ‘profound complicity’ in the gap, for important cultural, historical exchange.

Bio: Dr. Victoria de Rijke is Professor and researcher in Arts & Education at Middlesex University and Co-Chief Editor of Children’s Literature in Education Journal. Her research and publication is transdisciplinary, across the fields of literature and the arts, children’s literature, play and animal studies, through the associations of metaphor. This paper -exploring Cold War Art and Picturebooks- was given to the 15thInternational Child and the Book Conference on ‘Transformation and Continuity: Political and Cultural Changes in Children’s Literature from the Past Century to the Present Day’, March 2021