Stacey Bliss, a second-year PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Education, has earned the 2017 Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz Fellowship for Picturebook Research, which encourages and engages scholars from around the world with the resources of the Marantz Picturebook Collection.
The research fellowship is offered through the Kent State University School of Library and Information Science and is possible due to a donation supported by the late Dr. Kenneth A. Marantz and Sylvia Marantz.
Bliss was at Kent State University, Ohio from June 4 to 9 with Lauren Christie, a fellowship recipient from The University of Dundee in Scotland. Over the week, Bliss researched the library’s collection for her project titled “Welcomed and Unwelcomed Guests in Picture Books: Querying Uncertainty and Unpredictability of the Environment, Self, and Others”.
She drew from her initial inspiration and analysis from Kyo Maclear (Faculty of Education PhD candidate) and Katty Maurey’s (2015) contemporary picture book The Specific Ocean. Within The Specific Ocean, readers experience the interwoven nature of external and internal environments where welcomed and hospitable guests, including the ocean, the creatures in it, as well as nature within – the breath. Bliss queries: What then of unwelcomed others such as unexpected guests, monsters, silence, or death?
Her study casts a fresh look at picture books through the lenses of Derridian and Levinasian ethics, calling into question the responsibility to and for the other, whether the other presents itself as real, imaginary, scary, or benevolent. The project rethinks Marah Gubar’s (2011) notion of not defining children’s literature and similarly does not define the illustrations as particular to children; rather extends the query “Is there such a thing as children’s picture books? Is there such a thing as the unwelcomed in the illustrations and what or who is unwelcomed?”.
Bliss is utilizing the Marantz extensive collection to look at Maurice Sendak’s artwork and contemporary titles such as Duck, Death and the Tulip, and Du Iz Tak?. She will present her research at the upcoming International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL Congress) on July 31. The IRSCL Congress will be held at York University from July 29 – Aug. 2 with the theme ‘Possible & Impossible Children: Intersections of Children’s Literature & Childhood Studies’.
For more on the congress visit www.irscl.com/conferences.html.