CFP – Starlight and Shadows: Images of Lost and Othered Children in Contemporary Cinema

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Seeking original articles for an edited collection about lost and “Othered” children in contemporary cinema (from 1980 to the present). In contrast to traditional portraits of sweetness and light, there is a large body of cinematic works that provide a counter note of darkness to the more common notion of the innocent and pure child. These films depict childhood as a site of knowingness, despair, sexuality, death, and even madness. Starlight and Shadows [tentative title] explores this filmic imagining of the dark side of childhood.

Lost children are involuntary wanderers who are victimized, exploited, abandoned. Children who are “Othered” are forced to the fringes of childhood, are ostracized, ignored, victims of colonization, or part of Diasporas. These children navigate their way through the world living in the shadow of happy families, in murky or threatening environs, or living a form of placelessness. They must depend on their wits or, in some cases, on otherworldly influences. They negotiate a darkness that negates the Romantic view of childhood innocence.

Submissions to Starlight and Shadows can include, but are not limited to, depictions of children negotiating race, gender, class, mental illness, forced migration, superstitions, peer pressure, crime, or other social and material conditions in which the film constructs a child character positioned outside the romantic notion of the child.

Essays that take a child-centric approach, interrogate the idea of the Western romanticized child, or that draw upon multi-disciplinary theoretical frameworks including psychology, film studies, literature, women studies, and queer studies are encouraged. Contributions should be academic in nature and follow MLA documentation.

Proposals are welcome on, but certainly not limited to:

Neil Jordan In Dreams, The Company of Wolves; Lee Daniels Precious, Monsters Ball; Stephen Spielberg ET, Hook, Jurassic Park, AI, Empire of the Sun; Danny Boyle Millions!, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire; M. Knight Shyamalan Unbreakable, Wide Awake, Signs, The Sixth Sense, The Village, The Last Airbender; Guillermo Del Toro Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy.

Contributors please send a 200-500 word abstract, or, if complete, the full essay, a short biography, and complete contact information to Debbie Olson, debbieo@okstate.edu.

Deadline for abstracts is August 1, 2010. Full essays are due no later than December 31, 2010.