CFP: Special Issue of Interjuli, ‘Disability and Illness in Children’s Literature’

Children’s literature, Lois Keith argues, has long tended to use disability and illness as metaphors, as “devices to bring the character through a period of trial and desolation into the bright light of resolution and a happy ending” (2001, 194). Where they were depicted at all, disabled and ill characters have mainly been described in terms of pity, their physical or psychological difference has been portrayed as a punishment for a transgression, or euphemistically been glossed over altogether. Over the course of the last decade, however, a decided shift in the quantity and quality of children’s books featuring disability and illness has occurred, and an exciting trend seems to be emerging: The number of disabled characters in children’s literature is increasing and so is their psychological depth. From The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time to The Fault in Our Stars, there are more narratives featuring disability and illness, and those texts tend to be more authentic, varied, and positive about non-normative characters.

interjuli 01/17 will deal with Disability and Illness in Children’s Literature. Possible aspects thereof are:

  • Intergenerational aspects of disability and illness in children’s literature
  • Children’s literature’s negotiations of disability and illness in the course of history
  • Concerns for age appropriateness in disability and illness narratives
  • Illness, disability and health in non-fiction
  • Fictions of “normalcy” and bodily deviance
  • Disabled characters between victims and supercrips
  • Problematising “inspirational” narratives
  • Disability and illness writing as problem literature
  • Disability culture and the disability rights movement in children’s literature
  • Disability and illness media as tools in medical settings

As always, we also welcome contributions that do not directly pertain to our focal topic. Please send in your manuscripts by 1st August 2016 to Guidelines concerning formatting and editing standards will be sent out upon request and can be found at

interjuli is an open access interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the research of children’s literature. We publish research papers and interviews as well as reviews of primary and secondary works.


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