DH: Lit@MIT // 2020 Speaker Series presents The Virtual Child: Children’s Literature & Digital Culture
Monday, March 30, 2020 at 11:00am to 12:30pm
Building 5, 217
Presented by Dr. Derritt Mason, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of English at the University of Calgary
Contemporary scholarship about children’s new media tends to fall into two camps. In the first, scholars offer practical suggestions for deploying digital texts in an educational context. Those in the second camp diagnose and critique the anxieties that arise when children access virtual communities. Implicit in much of this scholarship is the idea that virtual texts and spaces require brand new approaches to both children’s literature and childhood itself.
This talk will illustrate how the longer history of “the virtual” helps us think through young people’s digital virtualities with greater nuance. Such a history illuminates how digital virtual space is often a site for contemporary iterations of longstanding anxieties and desires surrounding the child’s own virtual qualities. Mason will explore pre-digital virtualities in key works of children’s and young adult literature, including J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which depicts a relationship between childhood and the virtual that enables us to better theorize how digital texts for young people endeavor to construct and secure their audiences.