Call for Papers: Research on Diversity in Youth Literature 3.1

Special Issue on Minstrelsy and Racist Appropriation in Youth Literature and Culture

Research on Diversity in Youth Literature (RDYL) announces a call for papers  for a special issue on minstrelsy and racist appropriation in youth literature and culture. Scheduled to publish in June 2020, RDYL 3.1 will be guest edited by Dr. Brigitte Fielder (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Dr. Katrina Phillips (Macalester College). RYDL is a peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal hosted by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program and University Library.

Children’s literature and popular culture are key to the production of racism. Young people encounter depictions and performances of race in a myriad of forms, often in ways that appropriate and misrepresent non-White people. Given the overwhelming whiteness of children’s literary and popular culture in the U.S., it is clear how such misrepresentations risk overshadowing non-White people’s presence, resistance to racial oppression, and self-representation. Children’s literature and popular culture contributes to minstrelsy, blackface, redface, yellowface, and other forms of racist caricature and performance.

This special issue calls contributors to consider the various forms that minstrelsy and racist appropriation take in youth literature, popular culture, and performance. What are the most prominent genres in which these forms of depiction and performance appear? How do forms of racism translate across genres, and how is performance, in particular, implied in other adaptations of minstrel themes? How do the histories of these forms of racism reflect their specific moments and how did they affect the people they misrepresented? How do present iterations of minstrelsy and racist appropriation either replicate or diverge from their earlier forms? We are also interested in work that counters these histories of appropriation. How do non-White writers push against these stereotypes and constructions? Where is the most productive work (in literature, popular culture, or academic writing) against these racist forms? How might we better navigate these as researchers, scholars, librarians, educators, parents and caregivers, and others who seek to prioritize the interests of the children (and adults) who are adversely affected by racist appropriation?

RDYL seeks papers that treat youth literature and culture from any time period (including the present) and treatments of minstrelsy and racist appropriation in its array of forms, from text to visual culture to performance. We welcome submissions from a wide variety of fields, including (though not limited to) literary studies, library studies, youth education, performance studies, media studies, American Studies, and history. Interdisciplinary essays that center ethnic studies methodologies are particularly welcome.

Submit complete essays by December 1, 2019 to Brigitte Fielder ( and Katrina Phillips ( Essays should be between 4,000-6,000 words, including footnotes and Works Cited. All citations must be documented according to MLA 8.

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