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Elly McCausland

Dr, Postdoc

Elly McCausland

My postdoctoral research examines representations of risk in children’s literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. It explores how issues of risk and trust have been mediated through children’s narratives, and how the adventurous child has served, and continues to serve, as a conduit for adult investigations of the social and cultural capital of risk, and anxieties about the changing locus of trust and value at key historical moments. Karin Lesnik-Oberstein has observed that the child is ‘a construction, constructed and described in different, often clashing terms’ and ‘the production of systems of purpose, fuelled by need’. This project perceives the child as an adult discursive construct, used as a focal point for narrative imaginings of adventure that consider the role and function of risk in society. It will examine this constructed child, and the ways in which his or her engagement with the unknown spaces of adventure and fortune has served to map adult anxieties about the shifting loci of trust in capitalist, imperialist, post-war and digital ages.

Selected talks and conference papers

  • July 2018: 'Fiendish Creatures, Brave Beasts: Textual and Visual Animal Bodies in the Novels of Rider Haggard'. The Body and the Page Conference, University of Victoria, Canada
  • May 2018: '"Territory Open to Girl Activity": The Wilderness in Camp Fire Fiction, 1912-1920'. Orientations Conference, University of Nottingham
  • 19 November 2017: 'From the Plant of Life to the Throat of Death: Freakish Flora in Fin de Siecle Lost World Novels'. Gothic Nature, Trinity College Dublin
  • 8 November 2017: ‘Trust and Unnatural Eating in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.’ Guest lecture (by invitation), English Lecture Society, Aarhus University
  • 22 October 2017: ‘King Arthur in Children’s Literature: From Medieval to Modern.’ Guest lecture (by invitation), Aarhus University
  • 25 August 2017: ‘Anxieties of Childhood and Consumption in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.’Fear & Safety: Biennial Conference of the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies, Helsinki, Finland
  • 20 July 2017: ‘“I Wouldn’t Trust that Map”: Unmapping Adventurous Masculinity in Victorian Imperial Romance.’ Travel, Translation and Communication, Victorian Popular Fiction Association Conference, London
  • 6 May 2017: ‘“Into the Great Profound Beyond”: Liminal Masculinities and the Dramatisation of Risk in Late Nineteenth-Century Boys’ Adventure Novels.’ Trust and Risk in Literature Network Meeting, University of California, Irvine
  • 7 September 2016: ‘“Gobble Up Our Images”: Consumption and Ontological Security in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.’ Trust and Risk in Literature Network Meeting, University of Yamanashi, Japan
  • 25 January 2016: ‘“Ever Fresh and Fascinating to the Boy and Girl of Today”: King Arthur and the Nineteenth-Century Child.’ Guest lecture (by invitation), Leeds Trinity University
  • 8 September 2015: ‘“Right Living and a Happy Daily Life”: Reinterpreting Malory for the 1950s in Alice Hadfield’s King Arthur and the Round Table.’ International Arthurian Society Annual Conference, University of York
  • 20 May 2015: ‘“If There’s a Spice of Danger, All the Better”: Aestheticized Risk-taking and the Acquisition of Idealized Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century Arthurian Literature for Children.’ Military Masculinities in the Long Nineteenth Century Conference, University of Hull
  • 20 April 2015: ‘“The Ill-Made Knight”: Childhood Trauma and Daydreams of Chivalry in Modernist Arthuriana for Children.’ Modernism’s Child Conference, University of Sussex
  • 21 November 2014: ‘“A Favourite in Most School-Rooms”: Adapting the Arthurian Legend for the Pedagogical Canon of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.’ Guest lecture (by invitation),Children’s Literature Oxford Colloquium, University of Oxford
  • 12 March 2013: ‘“I Have Made his Glory Mine”: Tennyson’s Idylls and the Tradition of Feminine Power in Retellings of the Arthurian Legend.’ Victorian Women: Inter-disciplinary and Institutional Exchange Symposium, V&A Research Department, London

Research areas

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