Children and Youth Studies Caucus
Children & Youth Studies Caucus: logo created by Megan Montague Cash.

The Children and Youth Studies Caucus joins scholars who engage in interdisciplinary perspectives on the individual experiences, social conditions, and rights of children and youth in both historical and contemporary contexts. Children and Youth Studies aims to understand the complex experiences and conditions of young people in global, national, and local settings.


Session Title: Children’s Play: Fun, Love, and Solidarity among Young People

How do young people make radical use of play and fun? How can we, as scholars of childhood and American Studies, deepen our attention to forms of activism and creativity that emerge from children’s play, or forms of play and joy that emerge from activism? Sponsored by the Children and Youth Studies Caucus in response to the conference theme “Solidarity: What Love Looks Like in Public,” this session will explore how children’s fun can open fresh perspectives on “love in public.” We invite proposals for brief papers, suitable for a roundtable discussion, that examine intersections of play, fun, joy, leisure, love, solidarity, and activism in the worlds of childhood and youth. We welcome perspectives on childhoods historical and contemporary, real and imagined. 

Please send abstracts (~150-200 words) to Ryan Bunch <> and Halle Singh <> by January 13, 2023

Session Title: Resisting Restricted Childhoods
Sponsored by the Children and Youth Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association, this session seeks papers that grapple with the ways that childhoods have been restricted—temporally, geographically, sexually, racially, politically—as well as the work that has been done to build solidarities that enable more expansive possibilities for childhood. 

A host of people and systems—lawmakers, politicians, doctors, social workers, families, institutions (educational, religious, carceral, medical, and domestic)—are invested in restricting childhoods. Many of these people and institutions allege that their attempts to restrict childhood are forms of care. In so doing, they distort the conference theme of “What Love Looks Like in Public” by disguising harm in the rhetoric of love, welfare, and service. To cite but a few contemporary examples, this year (2022) a dozen state legislatures debated bills designed to criminalize the existence of trans children. Book-banning in the US is at an all-time high: the books being banned or restricted are almost entirely multicultural or LGBTQ literature for young people. Black children’s ability to inhabit the category of childhood is mitigated by police brutality and social, economic, and political inequities. If successful, current attempts to dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 will restrict indigenous children’s access to kinship and futurity. Migrant children crossing the border have limited possibilities for citizenship, belonging, and safety in this country. These are just some examples that illustrate institutions and their adult agents’ attempts to control, constrain, and curate children’s experiences and futures.

In opposition to those who wield “love” as abuse, there are creators of culture, authors of children’s books, and groups of activists who assert minoritized children’s right to determine their own social, political, and economic futures. From the television show Reservation Dogs to Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel Gender Queer to Scheherazade Tillet and Salamishah Tillet’s art exhibit Exploring Black Girlhood to climate activists in the International Indigenous Youth Council, children and their advocates have responded powerfully to these attempts to delimit childhoods.

We welcome proposals from any historical period as well as proposals that approach these issues informed by indigenous, critical race, queer, feminist, ecocritical, anthropological, historical, sociological, and/or literary methods. We also welcome proposals that can speak to these issues from the positions of activism and praxis. If your proposal is accepted, you must be a member of the ASA by February 1, 2023.

If you are interested, please send a 250-300-word abstract as well as a short bio to Mary Zaborskis <> and Philip Nel <> by January 13, 2023.

Stay tuned for more CFPs and events!

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Twitter: @ASAchildstudies