Keynote Speakers


Valeria Sardi


Professor of literary education and didactic at National University of la Plata (UNLP) in Argentina, she works as a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Research in the Institute of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences. Member of GT GLACSO “Territorialities, spiritualities and bodies” and part of the Research Network of and from Bodies; she currently directs a research project on sexed bodies, corporeal knowledges and affect focusing on pedagogical bonds and reading, writing, and orality in secondary schools. Author of Escrito en los cuerpos. Experiencias pedagógicas sexuadas (GEU, 2019), and Políticas y prácticas de lectura (Miño & Dávila, 2011), among a plethora of books and articles that approach reading and writing, gender(s)-sensitive teacher training, sexed-gendered corporealities and teaching, as well as childhoods and literature. She is also a poet and has organized free-of-charge reading workshops from a gender(ed) lens.

Keynote Title - A Desire Looks for its Dwelling: Genders and Sexualities in Literature Teaching

Literature classes at school are a territory in which apparitions of sexual and gendered dimensions are habitual, a happening that sparks discussions and tensions among both students and teachers, and brings to focus didactic concerns on how disciplines are to approach gender and sexuality in classroom settings.

This presentation aims to inquire into how literature teaching is a propitious space to deploy ways of reading, interpreting and hypothesizing on reading from sexed and gendered practices. That is, from a gendered and sexed perspective, lectureship practices may promote the forming of readers whose desire and curiosity operate in the conformation of aware readers that denaturalize and reflect around sexism and androcentrism.

It is under the light of the aforementioned conformation that literature teaching from a gendered and sexed perspective stands as both a necessary and urgent process in the search for a more egalitarian society, one that defies heterocisnormative and patriarchal mandates.



Marilisa Jiménez


Professor of Latinx studies and children’s literature at Lehigh University, Marilisa Jiménez García specializes in Latinx literature and culture. She is also the founding director and principal investigator of the Taskforce on the Institute of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, a research lab space co-led and co-founded by students and faculty of color at Lehigh. Jiménez García’s research on Latinx literature has appeared in Latino Studies, CENTRO: A Journal of Puerto Rican Studies, The Lion and the Unicorn, and Children’s Literature. Her forthcoming book, Side by Side: US Empire, Puerto Rico and the Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture (University Press of Mississippi, April 2021) examines the history of colonialism in Puerto Rico through an analysis of youth literature and culture both in the archipelago and the diaspora. Marilisa seeks to create pathways in her research between the multiple fields of Latinx Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, children’s and young adult literature, comparative literature, and education. She is also a Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color Fellowship recipient from the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and also the recipient of Lehigh’s Office of Multicultural Affairs 2019 Change Agent Award.

Keynote Title - Transnational LIJ: Latinx Studies, Puerto Rico, and the Praxis of Transnational Solidarity

This presentation will take into account the importance of children’s and young adult literature in documenting the Puerto Rican past and present through its communities in Puerto Rico and the diasporas. Focusing on the Caribbean, I will also analyze the problems and barriers literature for young people (LIJ), and its authors, have faced in terms of visibility in various canons and tensions between pedagogy and aesthetics. Yet, how does LIJ wonderfully disrupt our prejudices about childhood, nations, and the future of our fields of Latinx, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies? Furthermore, how might the field of international children’s and young adult literature truly support critical conversation that cross borders?


Spyros Spyrou


Professor of anthropology and childhood studies at the European University Cyprus. His work is located in the interdisciplinary field of Childhood Studies, and focuses on children’s identities (especially in relation to nationalism, migration, and borders), while also tackling questions of poverty, social exclusion, and vulnerability by exploring ways of empowering children and young people to become knowledge producers through participatory approaches to research. His most recent works engage with broader discussions on knowledge production in the field of Childhood Studies. Spyrou is currently working on a project funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation and the Hellenic Observatory at the LSE researching the role of children and young people as political actors in light of their participation in climate action. He is the author of Disclosing Childhoods: Research and Knowledge Production for a Critical Childhood Studies (2018, Palgrave Macmillan) and co-editor of Reimagining Childhood Studies (2019, Bloomsbury) and Children and Borders (2014, Palgrave Macmillan). He is also Associate Editor of the Sage Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies, co-editor of the journal Childhood (Sage), and co-editor of the book series Studies in Childhood and Youth (Palgrave).

Keynote Title - The Irreducible Child: Notes Towards a more Critically Open Childhood Studies

To assume that one knows ‘what a child is’, is to foreclose the possibilities for ontological surprise, for the unexpected. But if one cannot know the child (what is and can be) then how does one proceed to produce knowledge about the child that is meaningful, critical, ethical and matters for the times we live in? In my presentation, I argue for a critically open Childhood Studies which sees the child as fundamentally irreducible, as an ontological becoming, always unfinished and in process, assembled and reassembled materially and discursively in encounters with both human and non-human others. Decentering the child in this way offers possibilities for new forms of knowledge that are more critical and ethical because they are attuned to the radical interdependencies of life. It also opens up the possibility for counter-hegemonic renderings of what a child is and can be in a neoliberal world which seeks to foreclose more ethical and just alternatives.


Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer


Professor of Children’s Literature at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. After having been a teacher in secondary education for several years, she started her academic career with a PhD on the literary socialization of young children within the family. Between 1998 and 2013 she held an endowed chair on children’s literature at Leiden University (the Annie M.G. Schmidt chair named after the best know author of children’s literature in the Netherlands). In 2001 she was appointed professor of children’s and adolescent literature at Tilburg University. Since 2011 she has been the coordinator of the Dutch Master’s program Children’s and Adolescent Literature at this university. Since 2019, she has been teaching in the Erasmus Mundus International Master Children’s Literature, Media and Culture, coordinated by the University of Glasgow. Between 2007 and 2021 Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer was president of the Dutch section of the International Board on Books for Young People. Her research interests are adolescent literature, the relation between children’s literature and age studies, and life writing for and by young readers.

Keynote Title - Children’s Literature Studies: a Joint Venture

Until recently, text-oriented research on children’s literature has gone largely unnoticed by colleagues from reading and literacy studies, whereas for quite some time, research on the reading and literacy development of children has often not been considered to be a genuine part of children’s literature studies. As a children’s literature researcher involved in both text-oriented research and reading and literacy studies, I have always seen this divide as highly artificial. The recent interest in participatory research practices, indicating a shift to a more child-centered point of view in children’s literature studies, and the development of childhood models that acknowledge the kinship between children and adults, offer fruitful opportunities to move away from this unnatural split and to create synergy between a text-oriented and a child-oriented approach to children’s and young adult literature. Although my own research was never purposefully designed on the basis of a participatory research model, it has definitely provided insights in how children are experts on their own literature and in how intergenerational collaboration fosters dialogues about literature between children, young adults and adults in which age-based power is no longer a decisive factor. In my three-part presentation I focus on children as emergent readers, on children as critical judges and on young adults as creative (co-)authors. On the basis of a retrospective rereading of my data from studies on the literary socialization of preschool children, children’s juries and on young adults as life writers, which I gathered over a period of almost forty years, I argue that children’s literature studies is a joint venture between children, adults and books.


Magda Sepúlveda


Professor of literature at our host university, the Catholic University of Chile, and associate researcher at the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Sepúlveda has directed important projects funded by the Chilean research agency (ANID) and has written several books, among them Chile Urbano (2013, Cuarto Propio), which brings together important North American and Chilean researchers dialoguing about the image of the country in films such as Tony Manero and the narrative by women writers, such as the novels by Nona Fernández. Her second book, Ciudad Quiltra (2017, Cuarto Propio), an essay on Chilean poetry produced from 1973 to 2013, won the Creation Award from the Ministry of Arts and Culture, establishing the importance of Mapuche poetry and the rebellion of women poets against gender stereotypes. Her latest book, Gabriela Mistral. Somos los Andinos que Fuimos (2018, Cuarto Propio), studies Mistral’s relationship with the ecological and cultural systems of the Andes. This book was selected by the National Authors Acquisition Program of the State of Chile to be distributed in all public libraries countrywide.

Keynote Title - The Round as Spatial Repossession and Political Agency: Gabriela Mistral

Children’s texts created by Gabriela Mistral seek for children to enact a spatial repossession, fostering the exercise of political agencies to validate their territories from the cultures sprung from symbolic and material geographies. Her texts have a concrete recipient: indigenous and lower-class children. These children are invited to hear the sounds of their own cultures, and to value the food on their tables and kitchens. But they are also called over to analyze the territories that have been taken away from them, and that can be recovered through the round, wherein names are lost in search of a collective that shares a common tempo.


Clémentine Beauvais


Professor of English in education at the University of York in the United Kingdom. Her research revolves around literary and cultural aspects of childhood and education, especially children’s literature, creative writing, literary translation in education, and the history and cultural sociology of childhood. She is the author of The Mighty Child: Time and Power in Children’s Literature (John Benjamins, 2015), which proposes an existentialist theorization of adult-child relationships in children’s literature. She is currently exploring literary translation, its potential role in education, and its mediation and practices in children’s literature in the UK. Clémentine is also a writer for children and young adults in French, and a literary translator from English to French.

Keynote Title - The Future of Reading For Pleasure

Once upon a time, it seemed so easy to say: we should encourage reading for pleasure. It became a campaign, a field of research, a pedagogical conversation. Get the children to choose their own books, to read for pleasure, never judge them on their reading, we said, and they will become lifelong, avid readers.

Not so easy anymore: children’s literature studies and literacy studies have become increasingly concerned with the political and moral responsibilities associated with children’s chosen reading. What if children are loving books that perpetuate and strengthen dominant forms of power, comfortable visions of the world for the already privileged? What hides behind ‘pleasure reading’, behind ‘books children like’, behind ‘spontaneous choices’, is beginning to appear less and less attractive – and is making the role of academics, mediators and teachers of reading more and more complex.

Can we still advocate reading for pleasure when the urge is to read politically? How can we retheorise pleasure reading to incorporate those nuances and transformations? In this talk I argue that we should embrace the opportunity to reconceptualize pleasure reading, and attempt to do so in dialogue with contemporary and past academic conversations around that tricky concept.