As the centenary of the First World War approaches, attention will increasingly be focused on the relations between that first global conflict in 1914 and whatever conflict happens to be erupting or progressing at the moment.
In the 21st century, all conflicts are potentially global conflicts.
Over the next few years, issues related to war stories and conflict studies, child soldiers and child victims of war, will increasingly come into focus.
The upcoming multidisciplinary conference “From the Garden to the Trenches,” taking place in Niagara and Toronto from May 10 to 12, will examine issues of childhood, children’s literature and culture, and the First World War.
By studying children’s literature and culture in the pre-war years, “we’ll gain insights into how children were enculturated,” says Lissa Paul, one of the conference organizers and professor of Education at Brock.
“And the lessons from the Great War, the war that was supposed to end all wars, offer insights into our current cultures of war - and peace,” she says.
Michael Morpurgo, author of the award-winning WWI drama War Horse, will be one of the event’s keynote speakers.
Canadian authors participating include Hugh Brewster, Deborah Ellis, Sarah Ellis, Linda Granfield, Kevin Major, Art Slade and John Wilson. International scholars include Andrew Donson, Margaret Higonnet, Michael Joseph, Andrea McKenzie and Paul Stevens.
A one-day registration for the Niagara portion of the conference, at White Oaks Conference Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Thursday, May 10, includes lunch, dinner, snacks and “From Page to Stage,” a conversation between Michael Morpurgo and Tommy Luther, associate puppetry director of the Toronto production of War Horse, from 8 to 9 p.m.
The Toronto portion of the conference, at Trinity College, University of Toronto, on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12, includes lunch and a reception, and a keynote address by Michael Morpurgo, “War Child to War Horse.”
There are student, teacher and senior discounts available.
“From the Garden to the Trenches,” the second of three international “Approaching War” conferences marking the centenary of the First World War, will focus on childhood culture and war from the perspectives of the Americas.
The first conference in Sydney Australia (December 2011), centred on the Global South, and the third, in Newcastle UK (March 2013), will focus on Europe.
The UK’s Leverhulme Trust is partly funding these international conferences to study children’s literature and culture in the years approaching the First World War. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is also providing funding for the Canadian conference.