At the 40th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi, in June 2013, over one hundred people gathered at 8:15 a.m. to hear the panel session “Taking a Risk: Manifestos for the Study of Children’s Literature.” This Forum offers, in lightly edited form, three of those four manifestos, presented by Marah Gubar, Robin Bernstein, and Karin Westman. The fourth, Philip Nel’s manifesto for a “comics-children’s literature alliance,” will appear as part of his essay on “Children and Comics” for The Cambridge Companion to Comics, edited by Bart Beaty and Charles Hatfield (forthcoming from Cambridge UP in 2014). Sara Schwebel’s conference paper, offering its own manifesto for another panel, takes fourth position for this Forum.
Each manifesto takes a risk, pushing beyond the safe boundaries of current scholarship in children’s literature into more risky, but intellectually fruitful, territories for future study. In the past, scholars of children’s literature have had to argue for its place at the table of critical inquiry. Now that it has a seat, we need to make visible how it informs all other fields of study at that table. Paying attention to children and children’s literature, we argue, will not just enhance but transform our accounts of everything from children’s agency to material culture, from periodization to public scholarship. These four manifestos point the way. [End Page 449]