Frame of Reference

The Looking Glass, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2007

Introduction – News from Down Under

David Beagley

"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle.".  (Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland, chapter 2)

Welcome to the first issue of The Looking Glass in its new format, and from its new home.

Change is inevitable in modern life. It is 37 years since Alvin Toffler coined the phrase "Future Shock" to explain the disconnecting consequences of 'too much change in too short a period of time'. But it is 142 years since Charles Dodson/Lewis Carroll expressed exactly the same thing through Alice's adventures in Wonderland. The titles of this journal, its sections and columns, use Carroll's words deliberately to hint at the almost prescient relevance to modern life that keeps popping up in his wonderful pair of Alice stories.

The Looking Glass is changing because the way people read is changing, and the way people study, and analyse, and explore, and remember, and do all those things that help them appreciate children's literature. The most obvious change, thus, is in our format of presentation. Since its inception, The Looking Glass has presented its articles as single pages on a web-site. This has led to two problems as our journal has grown: firstly, we get an ever-increasing file of pages to manage and host, one-by-one; secondly, it becomes difficult to track down a single article from earlier editions.

Therefore, we have decided to use an open-access journal program - OJS - developed by Simon Fraser University in Canada which will enable all articles to be searched by author, title, keyword and so on, in the standard way with which all library catalogue and Google users are familiar. It will also manage those issues and articles, and allow smooth editing and loading of new material.

I would particularly like to mention the work of Michael Wood, the Institutional Repository Manager of La Trobe University, in getting this program in place and meticulously working through the issues and details that stumped me. His support is invaluable and treasured!

You will see a slight change in the naming and focus of the sections of The Looking Glass. There are now seven key sections:

This change of format, by necessity, brings with it another - me! After 5 years at the helm, Jane Goldstein has handed over the reins and left me a big challenge to match the energy and enthusiasm that she constantly displayed. In the accompanying editorial essay, "Discovering Children's Literature - a personal journey", I hope to give you some idea of how I came to this role, and to indicate the fascination that it holds for me.

Change of editor also means a change of host. La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia will provide the computer server and support for The Looking Glass, emphasising the international approach that Jane, and her forerunner Annette Goldsmith, worked so hard to establish.

Thus, for this issue, our key articles have also been chosen to reflect this locational change to Australia, and draw strongly on the resources of La Trobe University. In Alice's Academy, Vaughan Prain explores how a national identity may be defined in literature in "Representing and Projecting Possible Identities: Australian Children's Literature". In particular, he challenges a set of criteria noted by John Stephens in a recent article in The Lion and the Unicorn. While dealing specifically with Australian texts, his elements may be applied to any nation's perception of itself, and we would welcome comment in reply from writers in other nations.

Emerging Voices presents Sandie Penn's examination of the role of the distinctive Australian landscape in creating narratives and character change in stories. In "The Influence of the Bush on European-Australian Identity in Australian children's literature", Sandy argues that European-Australians are not yet comfortable with the challenges of the Australian landscape - The Bush - and, therefore, present this tense relationship as character-forming and identity-defining.

In Jabberwocky, we explore several exciting initiatives that aim to encourage the creation of children's literature. Hazel Edwards, author of over 180 books for children and adults, looks at two aspects of a writing fellowship that took her to the challenges and wilderness of Antarctica. "Writer on Ice: writing styles and serendipity" discusses the range of range of media, perspectives and voices involved in Antarctic exploration and the possibilities these offer an author in expression. "Antarctic Close Up" is a 'work-in-progress' diary of the creation of a novel, commissioned by the National Museum of Australia, around a telescope used on a 1912 Antarctic expedition.

Jeff Prentice, of the May Gibbs Literature Trust, discusses that Trust's support of authors and illustrators in "Creative Fellowships and Residencies - the work of the May Gibbs Literature Trust in Australia". A fascinating element is how the Trust makes time and space available in private studio apartments for authors and illustrators just to work, free of distractions.

The Caucus Race has information on several major 2008 conferences in the United States and Australia, and calls for submissions for two upcoming themed issues of The Looking Glass.

I would also like welcome your thoughts, ideas, observations and suggestions about these changes to The Looking Glass. Simply email to - I promise that I will read them all!

The key aspect that excites me about working with The Looking Glass is the community of readers and writers that it encompasses. I want to keep it going, I aim to keep it vibrant, but each of you is as much a part of it as me. Please join in.

David Beagley


"Introduction" © David Beagley, 2007.