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Panel: “Fun With a Purpose”: Periodical Pedagogy and Early Edutainment
43nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 15-18, 2012
Rochester, New York – Hyatt Rochester
Host Institution: St. John Fisher College

Panel Description:

Children’s periodicals published in the US over the last 300 years provide a wealth of textual and visual insight into US culture, pedagogy, and conceptions of childhood. This panel will engage with this under-examined body of texts in their most salient mode: as pedagogy. Children’s magazines have served as instructional tools with subject matter spanning literacy, manners, morality, crafts, citizenship, “mental hygiene,” and beyond, transmitting enduring lessons in an ephemeral format. By packaging their lessons in an entertaining and disposable blend of fiction, non-fiction, images, activities, games, jokes, and riddles, these magazines can be considered a print medium precursor to “edutainment” or, as the motto of *Highlights for Children* calls it, “Fun with a purpose.” This panel is open to explorations of particular mechanisms, contents, and contexts of periodical pedagogy past and present, including examinations of child-readers’ participation in, subversion against, or re-creation of, that pedagogy.

Possible topics may include:

  • histories or analysis of particular children’s periodicals
  • pedagogies in periodicals (ideological, curricular, religious, etc.)
  • convergences of traditional magazines and digital media
  • magazines produced by children
  • fiction and poetry in children’s magazines
  • use of periodicals in classrooms
  • transnational periodicals
  • cross-cultural comparisons of periodical pedagogy
  • marginalia and ephemera
  • pedagogy in the home (or doctor’s office waiting room)
  • periodical pedagogy as pop culture
  • children’s responses to and uses of magazines

Please send 500-word abstracts to Patrick Cox at by Sept 30.

CFP – “Fun With a Purpose”: Periodical Pedagogy and Early Edutainment