New Trends in Children's Literature Research

Twenty-first Century Approaches (2000-2012) from the University of Vigo (Spain)

by Veljka Ruzicka Kenfel (Volume editor)
©2014 Edited Collection 239 Pages


The purpose of this volume is to present the scientific background of the Children’s Literature and Translation research group, which was established in 1992 at the University of Vigo. In 2006 it was awarded the category of Excellence Research Group. The scientific activities of members over the twenty years it has been in existence have contributed to improving and intensifying research into children’s literature in Spain and also to raising its scientific status. The group has strengthened collaboration with other Spanish universities and opened fruitful cooperation with foreign research centres. This book shows some new research lines we are focussing on and reflects current research trends in Children’s Literature in Spanish universities.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • El Quijote for Children and Young Adults in German: An Approach to Proverbs in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. German adaptations of El Quijote for children and young adults: general characteristics.
  • 3. Proverbs in literature for children and young adults
  • 4. Final conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Translating to Learn: Children and Young Adults in the History of Foreign Language Learning
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Methodological definition
  • 3. Antiquity: the earliest evidence
  • 4. Classical and Late Antiquity: Greece and Rome
  • 5. The Middle Ages in the Christian West
  • 6. The Renaissance
  • 7. From the 17th century to the present day
  • Bibliography
  • An Approach to Africanness in Spanish Children’s Literature
  • 1. Introduction: Africa for children in Spain and the Mundo Negro publishers
  • 2. African fables and the corpus object of study
  • 3. Parameters for the description of the fables.
  • 3.1. The functionality of the stories.
  • 3.2. The identity of the actants in the fables.
  • 3.3. Secondary Africanness topoi in the fables.
  • 4. Conclusion.
  • Sources.
  • The Rise and Fall of the European West for Youth: Spaghetti and Chorizo Westerns at a Glance
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Historical and Social Context
  • 3. Western Films
  • 4. Importance of the (sub)genre for kids
  • 5. The Rise and Fall of the West
  • 6. Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Towards a Feminist Perspective of American Comics
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Beginnings
  • 3. Doctoral Studies: Courses
  • 4. Doctoral Studies: Preliminary Thesis
  • 5. Doctoral Studies: Research for the Dissertation
  • 6. Contacts on Comics
  • Gemstone Publishers and Jack N. Albert
  • Peter Coogan
  • Hans-Heino Ewers
  • Antonio Altarriba
  • Feminist Critics of Comics in Spain
  • Jeanne Pauline Williams
  • 7. Parallel Research: Past and Future
  • Maus comics
  • The Seduction of the Innocent: Demonization of comics in 1950s America
  • Ergo Proxy anime
  • Star Wars films
  • Superman films
  • 8. The Feminist Perspective
  • 9. Conclusion
  • Reference
  • Social Values in Children’s Literature of the GDR in the 1970s and 80s: A Study of Three Works
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Object of Analysis
  • 3. Socio-political Background between 1949 and 1989
  • Soviet Socialist Realism and artistic development in the GDR
  • Real life conditions in the GDR versus Socialist Propaganda
  • 4. Case Study: Social and Socialist Values in Three Works
  • Social Concepts in Peter Brock’s ‘Ich bin die Nele’
  • Social Concepts in Benno Pludra’s ‘Das Herz des Piraten’
  • Social Concepts in Günther Görlich’s ‘Der unbekannte Großvater’
  • 5. Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Primary sources: GDR publications.
  • Secondary Sources:
  • 1. GDR publications:
  • 2. FRG, and after 1990
  • Translation as a modelling tool to protect the values of the target culture: the case of Galician Children´s Literature translations within the dominant Spanish context
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Translation of Children´s Literature as a modelling tool to protect and promote Galician cultural values
  • 3. Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Children’s Literature in English and its Translations and Adaptations into Spanish and Galician: A Critical Approach
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Literary translation quality assessment
  • 3. Proposal to assess the translation of children’s literature
  • 4. Assessment of children’s adaptations: an example
  • 5. Conclusions
  • References
  • Sexual Representations and Sexual Stereotypes in Young Adult Literature: Judy Blume’s Forever and Melvin Burgess’ Doing it
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Judy Blume´s Forever
  • 2.1. Challenging stereotypes: Sex for pleasure´s sake, with only one boy and love in the middle: Punished girls
  • 2.2. Sex and gender roles: Kath vs. Michael
  • 2.3. Forever as a “how-to” guide: the relevance of sexual information
  • 3. Melvin Burgess´ Doing it.
  • 3.1. Jackie and Dino vs. Kath and Michael: different time, same stereotype.
  • 3.2. Jonathon and Ben: sick sex vs. passionate sex.
  • 3.3. Characters´ sexual responsibilities.
  • 4. Conclusion
  • Works consulted
  • The Medium is the adventure
  • 0. Introduction
  • 1. Upside-Downs
  • Mutant bodies
  • Medium and narration
  • Remediatisation
  • 2. NogegoN, unsparing symmetries
  • Remediatisation
  • Bibliography
  • Colour, Costume and Animated Films: Analysis of The Social and Emotional Placement of a Character in Walt Disney’s Films
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Literary anthropology as research method
  • 3. A brief history of Disney costuming
  • 4. Disney and colour
  • 5. Adapting costume to real life
  • 6. Costume and colour
  • 6.1. Features based on a fairy tale: Cinderella
  • 6.1.1 Maid appearance
  • 6.1.2 The feminine touch
  • 6.1.3 Miracle dress
  • 6.1.4 Wedding dress
  • 6.1.5 Evil characters’ dressing
  • 6.1.6 Allies characters
  • 6.1.7 Male characters
  • 6.2 Features with a literary source: Beauty and the Beast
  • 6.2.1 Beauty and the importance of colour in her costumes
  • 6.2.2 The Beast and the importance of his costume
  • 6.2.3 The ballroom scene
  • 6.2.4 From character to object
  • 6.3 Features based on a historical tale: Pocahontas
  • 6.3.1 Traditional costumes of the Powhatans
  • 6.3.2 Disney’s interpretation of the costumes
  • Conclusion
  • Works consulted
  • Bibliography on-line
  • Series index

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Veljka Ruzicka Kenfel

The Research Group “Anglo-German Children’s Literature and its Translation” (AI1) at the University of Vigo was first set up in 1992. Made up of members from diverse literary fields such as English, German and French Studies and Translation and Interpreting, the group aims to provide doctoral and pre-doctoral students with the opportunity to start their research career in these areas. Since its creation, the group has been responsible for the commencement and implementation of more than twenty research projects at both regional and national level and at present we are involved in an European project called “Héritage, présent et avenir de la littérature européenne pour l’enfance. Identité, images, paroles”. In 2006 it was designated as “Group of Excellence” by Galician regional government (Xunta de Galicia), and has taken part since then in numerous international projects in Germany, Austria, Argentina, Italy and Mexico.

This research group was initially focused on the studies of English and German Children’s Literature and their mutual influence. Eventually, new research lines were spread out and more experts joined in, such as the Department of Translation at the University of Vigo. This enabled the research lines to be opened towards the field of translation, implying thus a new and more extensive analysis on their impact on other literatures, with a particular emphasis on Spanish literature and on the literatures in other languages of the Iberian Peninsula by means of the study of their translations and adaptations.

The interest that Children’s Literature -from now on CL- arouses not only from a didactic and educational perspective but also from a philological viewpoint, is evident in the significant number of students registered on the doctorate and MA courses offered by the Department of English, French and German Philology and Translation at the Faculty of Philology and Translation of the University of Vigo since 1996. All these courses stay open to other universities inside and outside our borders.

The activity of this research group has centred ever since its outset on studies about the origins of English and German CLs and their influence and impact on other European cultures. The first project was founded by the University of Vigo and Xunta de Galicia and bore the title of "The Intellectual and Literary Values of the Anglo-German Children’s Literature and its Impact on Adult Culture". The project carried out an analysis of its progress from a mere didactic and moralistic aspect towards a literature full of artistic and aesthetic values together with certain stylistic and structural aspects that marked the cultural formation of the adult. The result of this initial research was collected in the volume Evolución de la Literatura Infantil y Juvenil Británica y Alemana hasta el siglo XX (Cardeñoso: Vigo, 1995).

Two new projects followed, also founded by Xunta de Galicia, “Anglo-German CL as a Means to Approaching and Understanding Cultural Diversity and its Impact on Spanish CL” and “Anglo-German CL and its Reception in Spain: Historical Evolution and Linguistic Diversity”. They involved a study of linguistic, literary and sociocultural aspects of Anglo-German CL as well as a review on the influence of Anglo-German ← 7 | 8 → CL on Spanish CL by means of translated works, their reception by the critics and their influence on Spanish internal output (directly or non-directly adopted elements), i.e., the phenomenon of the German illustrated book or the English "nonsense" and the different adaptations of British and German books to media such as film or television in Spain. The results of these projects were published in the book La literatura infantil anglo-germana en nuestro siglo (PPU: Barcelona, 1997).

As this literature represents a specific communication process from a historical and cultural point of view, our research lines were expanded to the field of translation in order to analyse which factors within Anglo-German CL had influenced, to some extent, the development of Spanish Literature. We wanted to ascertain what books had been translated into Spanish, what kind of reception they had obtained from the critics and to establish then an analysis of their translations according to language communities (genres, translators, publishers, authors, titles, chronological development, etc…).

However, we found out that there was -and still is- a large gap of critical studies in the reception in Spain of the works in English and German CL thanks to translations and adaptations which, in spite of their being rather numerous, are sometimes of a poor quality, especially if we carry out a study of linguistic communities. The lack of critical studies in this sector has led to an increase in uncontrolled translated works in the publishing trade. This occurrence has increased since the mid ‘70s, when a certain promotion of regional, native languages (Galician, Basque and Catalan) in all areas throughout translations, bestowed on them a category similar to that of an international language. As regards their being oppressed languages for so long, the literary output was practically scarce or non-existent. Even CL was itself considered a peripheral subsystem within the literary system. Although this socio-political subjugation disappeared in the 70s, its aftermath still persists in many cases.

Following the Linguistic Standardisation Act of Galicia (1983) and the implementation of Galician language in classrooms, there was a higher demand of readings for school. As the Galician literary trade was quite deficient, translations were needed -we ought to take into account that the development of translations is generally faster than that of original works-. Thus, the role of translation has been instrumental in the formation of Galician CL.

Given the continuous increase of both translated works within CL literary trade and their own native language output, the lack of specific critical studies in various translations is something to be noticed. Nor is there a diachronic tracking of the different versions of the same work. Translation regulations, -we are talking about descriptive and not about prescriptive rules, according to the terminology coined by Toury in 1995- which explain certain behaviours shown by mediators in relation to specific problems, become sharp, convincing theories for many people but only a few dare to explore the practice due to the methodological difficulty of multi-systemic studies that deal with language, literature and culture.

Before such a full-of-challenges background, we decided to complement the consolidated research on CL in English and German with this approach in translation. Without neglecting the linguistic combinations with Spanish, we considered essential translation studies which entailed other languages within the Iberian Peninsula. This line of research has originated three major projects: “Anglo-German Children’s Literature ← 8 | 9 → and its reception in Spain: critical approach from different linguistic communities and through the analysis of translations and adaptations” (sponsored by Xunta de Galicia, 1998); “Transformation of Children’s Literature in media cultures: German and English adaptations for Spanish readers” (sponsored by Xunta de Galicia, 2001) and “Transformation of Children’s Literature in media cultures: Application of a critical research method of Spanish audiovisual adaptations of English and German children’s books” (sponsored by Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, 2003).

All these projects and the research work carried out by the members of the group have achieved significant results from two different perspectives:

 Literary aspects: Historical and critical reviews which encompass literary ages, current issues -specific problems of youth: drugs, sex, new family structures, migration, reunification- and studies on certain writers and their works.

 Translation aspects: Specific problems of translations of CL; translation of German and/or English CL into Spanish and native languages, e.g. Galician; strategies, techniques, translators: cultural transference through German and/or English translations.

The most outstanding results can be observed in books such as Contribuciones al estudio de la traducción de literatura infantil y juvenil (CIE Inversiones Editoriales Dossat 2000 SL: Madrid, 2002); Kulturelle Regionalisierung in Spanien und literarische Übersetzung. Studien zur Rezeption deutschsprachiger KJL in den zweisprachigen autonomen Regionen Katalonien, Galicien und Baskenland (Peter Lang: Frankfurt, 2002) and Estudios críticos de traducción de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil. Análisis de las traducciones de obras inglesas y alemanas a las cuatro lenguas oficiales en España (vol. 1 and 2) (Septem Ediciones: Oviedo, 2003; Septem Ediciones: Oviedo, 2007).

This effort has led to numerous visits to research centres in other countries and to partnerships with other universities, not only European but also American, Canadian and South American. We have also signed a project with the Centre for Documentation, Dissemination, Research and Training in CL at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of San Luis (Argentina). Subsequently, a conference in International CL held in Puerto Rico, at the University of Mayagüez, unlocked new contacts with authors and researchers in South American CL. We have created since then a close and fruitful collaboration with researchers from Universidad Iberoamericana in México DF.

As our research work got increasingly recognised outside our borders and the bonds with other researchers outside Spain were secured, we realised the need for a closer cooperation amongst researchers and amongst research groups within our country. During meetings with foreign researchers -mainly German and British universities- we often raised the question of delving into the Spanish situation in the province of CL: what do you do, how and where is it done?

When attempting to collect all the information, we came across a broadly dispersed outlook and a rather individualistic image in this research field in comparison to other countries, where there were strengthened research groups specialising in particular lines of research, such as teaching, translation studies, linguistics, illustration, librarianship, etc… The scarce connection which exists in Spain has allowed us to confirm ← 9 | 10 → that in some cases two or more doctoral theses on the same topic were being carried out without those involved being aware of the fact. Due to the need for an internal bonding amongst the researchers and a joint projection abroad, the idea of the National Association of Research in Children’s Literature (ANILIJ) was originated.

Once we were able to verify how this kind of associations ran in other European countries and by obtaining support and receiving suggestions from many of them -especially from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main-, we put forward the idea of inviting and gathering together the highest possible number of national researchers and of suggesting the official setup of an institution of this nature.

The formal creation of our Spanish association meant, on the one hand, the review of the current state of affairs and the existing immediate trends in this area in our country and above all, the consideration of their situation in the research field of the Higher Education sector in Spain.

In order to reach some valid conclusions, we arranged in Vigo in 1999 the First International Conference of the Asociación de Investigación de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil (ANILIJ): Tendencias actuales en investigación, with the aim of gathering together the highest number possible of national and international experts in this literary research field. Especially noteworthy is the support and advice we have received during this first congress from Hans Heino Ewers (Johann-Wolfgang-Universität, Frankfurt) and Kimberley Reynolds (Newcastle University), two of the greatest researchers in the field of CL.

Accordingly, we set four main scientific goals to be achieved:

 To gather national and international experts in CL together with any other likely ANILIJ members in order to consolidate networks, draw up a balance of both teaching and research in this literary field within the universities of the Iberian Peninsula and contrast it with the rest of Europe.

 To analyse the impact of CL studies on educational policies, the possibilities which they offer and the limitations they impose against the development in teaching and research.

 To draw up a balance of the projection which CL research in the Higher Education sector is currently having in the whole of the Spanish research.

 To assess external dissemination which the activity of the different research groups is producing in diverse countries together with its impact and connection with other groups.

 To encourage interdisciplinary research, with the result that there is a place within the association for both researchers appertaining to the philological province -Americanists, Anglicists, Germanists, Hispanists, Romanists, Slavists, etc…- and researchers appertaining to other adjacent disciplines -artists, historians, illustrators, librarians, translators, etc…-, as long as they focus on research and not on a mere dissemination or spreading of CL.

 To encourage collaboration and participation in projects, meetings and researchers exchanges amongst the associations of research in CL which already exist in other countries.

 To encourage publications as well as the organisation and participation in conferences and open days in the field of CL. ← 10 | 11 →

International cooperation displays two fundamental objectives:

 To exchange information on the situation of research in CL, on institutions of research in this field and on the specialities in CL and its contents within the diverse university degrees.

 To facilitate contacts and collaboration amongst our researchers and those of other countries in specific research areas.

The outcome of the Conference has allowed us to confirm, in the first place, the quality and vitality of the research which is being developed in Spain on national and world CL, as well as the scientific status reached by translation studies as regards this literature. In the second place, it has given us the go-ahead to analyse the existing shortage in certain research areas and the subsequent purpose of palliating it. Every scope has been reflected on the monograph Literatura infantil-juvenil: Tendencias actuales en investigación, published in October 2000 by the University of Vigo.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (July)
Multiculturalism Audiovisuelle Adaptation Comics Sexual Stereotypes Wildwestfilm Zeichentrickfilm
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 239 pp., 11 b/w fig., 1 table

Biographical notes

Veljka Ruzicka Kenfel (Volume editor)

Veljka Ruzicka Kenfel is a Full Professor at the University of Vigo (Spain). She is currently teaching German Language and Literature. Her areas of research are critical studies of translations and adaptations of German Children’s Literature. She is responsible for the research group Children’s Literature and its Translation at the University of Vigo and one of the founding members of the Spanish National Research Association in Children’s Literature. She is also the coeditor of the journal Anuario de Investigación en Literatura Infantil y Juvenil.


Title: New Trends in Children's Literature Research
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246 pages