Evil Children: Children and Evil
Monday 15 July 2019 – Tuesday 16 July 2019
The idea of the child as innocent, as pure, the ‘little angel’ in need of protection from the harsh realities of life and the corrupting influences of the world around us has come to dominate our thinking, language, values, social policies and educational philosophies. Children are seen as ‘little people’, ‘blank slates’, works in progress who are loved, nurtured and guided as they grow to become mature, rational and responsible adults.
Yet we are also aware of the mischievous ‘little monsters’, the ‘little devils’ who run exasperated parents ragged. The toddlers who chase pigeons; kick cats; pull the wings off flies and the legs off spiders. Children of whom we become afraid; who abuse other children; who assault each other, strangers, parents, the elderly. Children who ‘roam’ and ‘own’ the streets, individually or ‘in packs’; who are put ‘into care’; who commit crimes; who smoke, drink, and take drugs. Feral children. Children who rape. Children who torture. Children who kill. Children who are ‘possessed’: demonic children, evil children who do evil things.
This research stream will juggle with three competing approaches to children and evil. The first concerns itself with how (certain) children have been presented as evil and considers the nature of evil children as a social and cultural construct. The second concerns what is meant by ‘innocence’ – in all contexts – and then particularly the ‘innocence of a child’. The third approach considers the question of whether and, if so, in what ways children can be evil. Are children wicked? Are children malicious? What does it mean to be personally, socially, legally and morally responsible? And, if responsibility exists, at what point does one assume responsibility for one’s acts? What is it about the special status of ‘childhood’ that somehow makes it different?
The inaugural launch of this inclusive interdisciplinary conference will begin to examine, explore and undermine issues surrounding the general idea of the child as innocent and explore all aspects of evil children and the relationship between children and evil with a view to forming a publication to engender further collaboration and discussion. It will probe the dichotomies and ambiguities of our understanding and constructs of children, childhood, the passage through childhood to adulthood and the relationship with personal and social values, morals and responsibilities. It will map the ways in which children could or should be held accountable for the things they do and the contexts in which they are subject to influencing factors and conditions. And it will assess the use of ‘evil‘ in relation to children and childhood in historical and contemporary cultures.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Innocence and evil; innocent evil
- Evil and age; does age matter?
- Children: mad, bad or something else?
- Children, evil and empathy
- The child as perpetrator
- Normal children; aberrant children
- The vilification of children
- Evil, children and/in Fairy Tales: Folk Lore and evil children
- Evil, children and the supernatural
- Evil and the end of childhood
- Legal perspectives
- Forensic and Clinical/Biological perspectives
- Child murderers; children who kill
- Evil, children and the military. Children and war. Child soldiers
- Evil in the playground
- Evil, children and/in literature (e.g., Jack Merridew, Lord of the Flies; Frank Cauldhame, The Wasp Factory)
- Evil, children and/in films (e.g., “Chuckie,” “Ben,” Damien Torne, Henry Evans, Isaac Chroner, Regan MacNeill)
- Evil, children and tv (e.g., Joffrey Baratheon, Kevin Katchadourian, Stewie Griffin)
- Children in Horror Literature (“Carrie”)
- “Protecting” children from evil (film ratings, etc.)
- “Original Sin” and evil children
- Children in Victorian drama or literature: victims and perpetratorsChildren, disability and evil.
- Bastard children (e.g., Shakespeare)
- The psychology and psychopathology of evil children
- Economics of children and evil
- Cross-cultural perspectives of children and evil
- Children, evil and social policies
- Children, education and evil
- Inherited evils: the sins of the parents; children, evil and family
- Children who become evil adults
We invite people from all disciplines, professions and vocations to come together in dialogue, to provide a space and a level of legitimacy for a subject, or subjects that is traditionally seen as unimaginable, a socially taboo and even associated with pathology, by providing a forum for ideas and arguments that might otherwise not receive adequate attention and discussion. The ultimate goal is in a sense to expose the current topic to the light of day for examination of the intellectual, the emotional and the personal.
Currently, the significant areas of interest include literature, sociology, communications, art, psychology, politics, philosophy, history, anthropology, and other social sciences and humanities. Yet the scope of the conference is not limited to these fields or studies as it does not strike to narrowly define, or define at all, what areas constitute the significant not to eliminate the spirit of interdisciplinary efforts. The meeting is also open to other fields such as biology, biochemistry, political sciences, economics, etc. This kind of interdisciplinary engagement is always enjoyable and fruitful and makes for good networking and collaborative possibilities. Activists, anthropologists, archaeologies, archivists, artists and other creative professionals, civil servants, members of the clergy, clinicians, correctional authorities, historians, journalists, jurists and other legal professionals, military personnel, researchers, writers and others with an interest in the project are encouraged to submit proposals.
What to send
The aim of this interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, storytelling, performances, poster presentations, panels, q&a’s, roundtables etc.
300 word proposals, presentations, abstracts and other forms of contribution and participation should be submitted by Friday 22nd February 2019. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chair (Dr Jen Baker). There is an Early Bird Discount for Submissions received on or before Friday 18th January 2019 – they will be eligible for a 10% registration fee discount.
Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, PDF, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Evil Children Submission.
Where to send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:
- Dr Jen Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org (University of Warwick)
- Project Administrator: email@example.com
All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 8th March 2019.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 31st May 2019.
What’s so Special About Progressive Connexions Events?
A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.
A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.
A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.
An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.
An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.
Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.
Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.
Dr Jen Baker
Teaching Fellow in C19th Literature | Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies | Faculty of Arts | University of Warwick
Jen Baker, ‘Spectral Stowaways: Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’s’ “Kentucky’s Ghost” (1868)’, Gothic Studies, 19:2, (November 2017), pp. 45-57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7227/GS.0028
Jen Baker,’Traditions and Anxieties of (Un)Timely Child Death in Jude the Obscure‘, Thomas Hardy Journal, 33 (Winter 2017), 61-84, (ISSN) 02685418