Childhoods of Color Poster

Childhoods of Color
an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture
University of Wisconsin-Madison, September 13-14, 2019

Keynote lecture by Prof. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, University of Pennsylvania

The Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture ( is pleased to issue this call for paper and panel submissions to our 2019 conference, “Childhoods of Color,” exploring the various ways children of color interact with and are represented in print and digital media.

Approximately half of school-aged children in the United States today are not white.[1] This fact is not reflected by representations of children in print and digital culture. UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Books Center (which has tracked data on race and children’s book publishing since 1985) shows that African American, Latinx, Native American, and Asian American characters have been continually unrepresented in the children’s literature industry.[2] Children’s Literature scholar Philip Nel shows a similar trend in visual representations of characters of color, in the example of young adult fantasy and science fiction novels whose covers illustrations whitewash nonwhite characters, replacing them with white or ambiguously-raced figures.[3] While replacing an earlier trend of racist representations of people of color in children’s books, this sort of whitewashing amounts to a more insidious form of literary segregation. Similarly, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop’s report on Diverse Families and Media argues that “educational media are not being designed and vetted with all families in mind.”[4] Employing principals similar to those of the Children’s Television Workshop’s founders, the report traces research on families’ media use to make suggestions as to how media designers might better serve families of color, low-income families, and language-minority families.

Responding to the need to shift media paradigms, recent academic and activist work has attempted to counter past exclusions and erasures by prioritizing childhoods of color. Academic articles, monographs, and presentations work in tandem with popular campaigns such as We Need Diverse Books and Raising Race Conscious Children, creating truly interdisciplinary and inherently political work.[5]

Our conference seeks traditional panel and roundtable proposals and welcomes non-traditional presentation forms on themes and topics related to “Childhoods of Color” as they intersect with print and digital cultures. Topics might include (though are, of course, not limited to) any of the following:

  • Children’s literature
  • Visual culture
  • Digital culture
  • Media studies
  • Education and pedagogy
  • Literacy education
  • Reading interests
  • Language/bilingualism
  • The achievement gap
  • Migrant, refugee & immigrant children
  • Children’s activism & child activists
  • Education and politics
  • Youth and intersectionality
  • Sexuality and sexual identity
  • Childhood health and wellness
  • Toys and commercialism
  • Imaginative play
  • Childhood and popular culture

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Thomas has published extensively on children’s literature (particularly African-American children’s literature), the teaching of literature, history, and culture, and the roles of race, class, and gender in in K-12 classrooms. Thomas describes children’s and young adult literature as media through which “children and teenagers first form critical consciousness around issues of race, racial difference, diversity, and equality.”[6]

Compiled panels and individual panel submissions should be submitted to and are due by Monday, October 15, 2018. (Notices regarding conference acceptance will be sent by the end of December.) Individual paper proposals should be no more than 250 words each and should be accompanied by a one-page CV. Complete panel and roundtable proposals should include brief descriptions of each individual presentation as well as a 100-word overview of the panel. Complete panel and roundtable proposals should include one-page CVs for each presenter. Feel free to contact conference organization committee chair Dr. Brigitte Fielder with any questions, at

CFP – Childhoods of Color