Ferrum News

Ferrum College Well Represented at Children's Literature Conference


Ferrum College Well Represented at Children’s Literature Conference

English and Theatre Faculty Presenting Original Work.

Ferrum, Va. (May 20, 2011) – Writers, dramatists and scholars will represent Ferrum College at The Children’s Literature Association’s 38th Annual Conference, to be held June 23-25 at Hollins University.

The conference theme, Revolt! Rebellion! Protest! Change and Insurrection in Children’s Literature, will examine ways the world is changing through the lens of children’s literature. It will consider how fictional characters and children’s literature, in all media from books to video games, institute change, transgress the norm, protest the status quo or seek to protect it.

Rex Stephenson, founder of Ferrum’s Jack Tale Players and Artistic Director of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre (BRDT), was invited to speak in one of the special sessions devoted to creative writers and folklore of this region. Accompanied by some BRDT actors, including Music Director Emily Rose Tucker, Stephenson will demonstrate his story theatre method of adapting Appalachian folktales, in a session called “Folklore Live! 35 Years of the Jack Tale Players.” Tina L. Hanlon, Associate Professor of English, will chair this session at 8 a.m. Friday and present photos from the 35-year history of the Jack Tale Players.

Becky Mushko, former adjunct instructor of English at Ferrum, will appear in the next session of writers at 9:30 a.m. Mushko’s story “Ferradiddledumday: An Appalachian Version of Rumpelstiltskin,” was published as a book in 2010. Her 2011 novel for children, “Stuck!,” is also set in Franklin County. This session, called “Sense of Place, Sense of Home: Appalachian Folklore,” will be chaired by Tracy Roberts, who studied at Ferrum as an undergraduate.

“Heidi in the Blue Ridge Mountains” is Hanlon’s topic in a 9:30 session Thursday called “The Classics, They Are A’Changing: Literary Adaptation Crossing Cultures.” Hanlon’s paper analyzes Rex Stephenson’s script for an innovative adaptation of the classic novel “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri. Stephenson transplants the story from the Swiss Alps to Virginia, with Tucker providing adaptations of traditional mountain music and new songs. The new musical with an inter-generational cast will be performed at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in Ferrum August 2-6.

Susan Virginia Mead, Assistant Professor of Sociology, will present “A Reading Recipe for Raising a Radical (or The Children’s Library that Let Loose the Liberal!)” in a session on Thursday called “Indoctrinating the Little Ones.” Mead, who uses literature to illustrate sociological concepts in her teaching, hopes the audience will join her in discussing books that “inspire young readers to engage in active reading and critical thinking, and to carry memorable literature with them as they create highly engaged, deeply committed—even rebellious—social lives.” 

Hanlon and Lana A. Whited, Professor of English, are members of the planning committee for this conference. Whited’s book “The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter” got its start the last time the Children’s Literature Association met in Roanoke, in June 2000. After reading a paper to an overflowing room of Harry Potter fans, Whited decided someone should edit a book of critical essays on the best-selling fantasy series; in 2002 her book was the first such collection to be published.

Hanlon’s web site AppLit: Resources for Readers and Teachers of Appalachian Literature for Children and Young Adults (www.AppLit.org), contains articles, stories, and study guides by all these Ferrum writers and teachers.

Anyone interested in literature and childhood may attend all or part of the conference, which also includes an art exhibit by three contemporary illustrators, Thacher Hurd, Ruth Sanderson and Ashley Wolff, and a lecture by Hurd on Saturday. For more information see http://www.hollins.edu/grad/childlit/chla2011/index.htm.

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About Ferrum College: Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor's degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges.