The Quarterly's second column on international children's literature research introduces a scholarly climate radically different from that of the first column, published in the Fall 2002 issue. While Germany has a long and well-established tradition of children's literature studies, encompassing a number of rather rigid views and approaches, in Spain, serious research into children's literature is taking its very first steps. This is, however, not necessarily a disadvantage. Contemporary Spanish researchers have the opportunity to draw on international research, gathering insights and methods from international scholarly achievements. They are free to choose their own theoretical framework, and they can easily refer to the outside world when they need to legitimize their scholarly work. The boundaries between literary and educational studies are, apparently, flexible and mutually beneficial.
In contrast to the situation in Germany, research in Spain focuses more significantly on comparative studies and issues of translation. One may wonder about the reasons for this and be tempted to ascribe the emphasis on translation to the fact that half of the children's books in Spain were originally published in other languages. This cannot, however, be the only explanation, since similar conditions in many other European countries have not necessarily resulted in flourishing translation studies. In any case, the column author, Marisa Fernâdez López, herself, does research in an exciting scholarly field, a sample of which appeared in Volume 25, Number 1 of the Quarterly.
While some of the research mentioned in López' essay is explicitly historical, theoretical issues are obviously high on the scholarly agenda in Spain, and contemporary international children's books, such as the Harry Potter series, are considered acceptable research subjects. Due to the multilingual nature of Spain, a multicultural approach to children's literature is a given. All of these factors provide a broad scope of research topics, as becomes clear from the overview of recent topics for doctoral dissertations.
At the same time, as in the German essay, we can clearly see how profoundly children's literature criticism is influenced by political situations. Heavy censorship during the years of Franco's regime not only impeded the development of children's literature itself, but, naturally, also stifled scholarship. The explosive nature of research during the 1980s and '90s must be assessed against this background; Spanish scholars have had huge gaps to fill.
Last but not least, Lopez' essay confirms how one strong personality can change the attitude toward children's literature research in a country. Carmen Bravo-Villasante, the "Grand Old Lady" of children's literature scholarship in Spain, had a broad international orientation and undoubtedly contributed to the growing status of the field. Unfortunately, none of her works are available in English, and only one has been translated into German.
The number of research centers and professional journals in today's Spain is impressive, evidence of a dynamic and expanding scholarly environment. Even though the results of most of this research are only available in Spanish, they can be of great interest to Hispanic communities of North America and elsewhere. One hopes the recent endeavors of Spanish scholars will also gain international recognition since Marisa Fernandez Lopez' article certainly raises curiosity about what is going on in Cervantes' native country.