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Shaping a Preferable Future: Children Reading, Thinking and Talking about Alternative Communities and Times


Despite overall agreement that children’s voices matter in the development of policies affecting them, little effort has been
made to develop cultural practices encouraging utopianism as a critical attitude to reality and a means of facilitating the
expression of formative opinions on the part of children. Nor have young readers’ interpretations of utopian literature been
investigated as indicating their perception of the sociopolitical arrangements around them, including the context of the EU.
Notwithstanding the popularity of YA dystopian fiction, little attention has been given to utopian contents in other children’s
texts. A specialist in children’s literature studies and utopian studies, Deszcz-Tryhubczak addresses these lacunae in a
project examining utopianism as a significant element of discourse about children, manifesting in various cultural products
addressed to them. She also conducts empirical participatory research (with children as peer researchers) aimed at creating
egalitarian spaces within which young readers are not only heard but also collaborate with adults towards a better
understanding of how books shape ideas for the desirable future. This approach—an innovation in children’s literature
studies—has a huge potential for making children’s literature scholarship relevant to young people’s lives as a cultural
practice sustaining intergenerational dialogue. Thus this project is challenge-based and integrates unprecedentedly
children’s literature studies, empirical studies of literature and media, utopian studies, and childhood studies. The fellow will
publish its results in one article and a co-edited a collection. She will organize a colloquium for international scholars. Her
stay at Anglia Ruskin will be crucial in her obtaining full professorship and in her leading a children’s literature research
center in Poland. No secondment is proposed, but the research and public outreach activities provide opportunities to
expose her work to the public.


Net EU contribution
€ 97 727,40
Bishop Hall Lane
CM1 1SQ Chelmsford
United Kingdom

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East of England Essex Heart of Essex
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00