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Children's Literature, Dublin, and Deep Fried Brie

April 15, 2019

Shortly after I’d arrived in Dublin, my well-travelled brother took me to the oldest pub in the city: The Brazen Head, purportedly founded in 1198, which was glorious with faded bricks and pub paraphernalia. Feeling merely peckish, I ordered an appetizer of Brie, expecting a small bowl of cheese with some crackers. Instead, the server placed in front of me a block of Brie the size of my forearm, deep-fried, with a large bowl of cranberry sauce, for dipping. Dublin was right up my alley. It turns out the generous portion sizes in the pubs matched the generosity of Irish academics, as well.

I was in Dublin in order to present a paper on sex education picture books for the Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature. This conference took place at the Marino Institute this year, another ancient building in which the most brilliant paintings of the resurrection or busts of Aristotle would sit in the hallways beside file cabinets and extra desks. The two-day conference took place at the end of March, and featured a couple dozen academic speakers from as far as Warsaw, India, and Australia. A welcoming blend of established professors, independent academics, and grad student researchers, the conference featured fascinating papers on virtually every aspect of children’s literature. The keynote address was given by Kimberley Reynolds, a superstar in the children’s literature community. She spoke on youth activism in the inter-war years, exploring how various forms—from student publications to protest songs to carnivals—were radical acts at the time. It was brilliant to hear this thorough, unprecedented research from the source.

I am grateful to have been able to take this trip with support from the Literatures of Modernity M.A. program, as well as Ryerson international. This was my first time presenting a paper abroad, and the support of my institution means a great deal. I have returned with provocative ideas in my head, images of the lush landscape saved for future reminiscing, and the knowledge that brie is even tastier deep fried.

Sam Boer