CfP: The Undead Child: Representations of Childhoods Past, Present, and Preserved

Deadline for abstracts: Friday, April 30, 2021

In a new study on representations of children and childhood, we are seeking essays that explore the theme of undeadness as it applies to cultural constructions of the child. The undead in popular culture commonly refers to the living dead monsters of horror and mad science that transgress the borders between life and death, rejuvenation and decay. For our purposes, undeadness is a broad concept that explores how people, objects, customs and ideas deemed lost or consigned to the past might endure in the present. When undeadness is applied to the child, an array of interpretive possibilities emerge. These might include nostalgic texts exploring past incarnations of childhood, mementos of childhood (hair, teeth, clothes, art and craft, games, photographs, audio and video recordings), images and artefacts of deceased children, as well as states of arrested development and an inability or refusal to embrace adulthood. 

In our application of undeadness, we seek essays that explore attempts at countering the transitory nature of childhood. We believe that such an approach will enable deeper exploration of the parameters of childhood, including the theoretical viability of the child as a key social construct, as well as the ways innocence is itself a redundant concept that nevertheless maintains cultural currency.  While the focus of this collection will not be horror, submissions from contributors writing in the field are welcome, with the understanding that our purpose is to expand undeadness beyond the realm of horror while acknowledging its roots in the genre. 

Themes may include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Outmoded theories of childhood 
  • Changing definitions/applications of child
  • Historical practises in childrearing
  • Arrested development and the “kidult”
  • Media landscapes and the infantilized adult
  • Dead language and generational slang
  • Representations of time and childhood 
  • Preserving the child image 
  • Nostalgia and artefacts of childhood
  • Monuments to deceased children
  • Child fashion and sentimentality
  • Visual and sonic records of children
  • The child in photography 
  • Child violence and crime 
  • Children in war 
  • Trauma and remorse
  • Restoring “lost” childhoods
  • Dolls, automatons and mechanized children
  • Synthetic and artificial children
  • The resurrected child
  • Hauntology 
  • Child monsters
  • Zombie children
  • Child vampires

Please send an abstract (200-500 words), current contact information, a brief biography, and current CV as attachments in Word (or compatible) by Friday, April 30, 2021, to Craig Martin and Debbie Olson. 

Final date for completed papers, which should not exceed 10,000 words, inclusive of references, is Friday, October 29, 2021.