Vol 14, No 2 (2013)


Cover Page
On the Cover. RBM Vol. 14 No. 2

“The Party,” hand-colored wood engraving from: The Little Traveller, or, A Sketch of the Various Nations of the World : Representing the Costumes, and Describing the Manners and Peculiarities of the Inhabitants: Embellished with Fifteen Beautifully Coloured Engravings by J. Steerwell. (London: Dean and Munday, Threadneedle-Street, [ca. 1830]). The copy of the book from which this illustration is taken is in the Cotsen Children’s Library, part of Princeton University Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections Department.

This illustration was also reproduced on the website and print brochure for a Cotsen Library conference at Princeton on September 11-13, 2013, titled, “Putting the Figure on the Map: Imagining Sameness and Difference for Children.” The conference explored how children’s books were important vehicles for the expression of senses of national identity during the nineteenth century, a time when the world seemed to shrink, thanks to improved communications and transportation that facilitated travel, whether for commerce, conquest or leisure. Similarly the wonders of the world could be brought into the home via photography, maps, travel writing, and fiction. The representation of foreign lands inevitably required the illustration and description of their residents, which gave rise to a rich repository of colorful images of diversity. Through a tangle of national types, stereotypes, and archetypes, children’s books shaped discourse as much as they reflected mainstream adult culture.

Exploring these themes, and others, this interdisciplinary Cotsen conference featured presentations that drew on the approaches of imagology, history, anthropology, psychology, and literary criticism, to discuss modes of expression arising that either targeted children, within or without the classroom, or appropriated discourses for them, to present competing, complimentary or contradictory images of foreign nations.

For more information about the Cotsen Library or this conference, visit the Cotsen website: http://www.princeton.edu/cotsen/