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Call for Papers: Virtual Workshop "The Picture in Picture Books – Its History and Pedagogical Significance in a Transnational Perspective"

Call for Papers: Virtual Workshop "The Picture in Picture Books – Its History and Pedagogical Significance in a Transnational Perspective"

For the workshop on the history and pedagogical significance of the picture in picture books held vitually on May 6 and 7, 2021, the BBF invites proposals for contributions. +++ Deadline for submission: Sunday, January 31, 2021

The 4th workshop of the series "PICTURA paedagogica: Pedagogical knowledge in pictures" is dedicated to picture book illustrations. The aim is to examine the illustrations, designed for children in these special books, in terms of their history, their characteristic forms and their transformation, as a medium for imparting knowledge and – ultimately – in terms of their significance for the formation of literacy, i.e. their ability to understand the world and its representations.

Today, picture books are regarded as central to the development of children's ability to understand the world and to make it accessible. As the first books to be read and explained to them, they introduce children to the world and its cultural representations. At the same time, in a historical perspective, their distribution and use is not equally distributed among all social groups and not everyone uses them; for example, results of the study published in October 2020 by Stiftung Lesen (=Reading Foundation), show that 32% of parents in Germany hardly ever read to their children at all. At first glance, pictures in particular, and thus picture books, appear to be less culturally localized and less strongly bound to language – but there is much to indicate that this is simply not true in a historical and transnational perspective. 

The first – mostly religious – book illustrations were found in Europe and North America, mainly in Bibles or devotional literature. The famous “Orbis sensualium pictus” first published in 1658 by the Czech Johann Amos Comenius was the beginning of the illustrated children's picture book, and many children's picture books that followed were based on this book, even in different national and cultural contexts. "A Little Pretty Pocket-Book" by John Newbery from 1744 is regarded as the earliest illustrated English storybook for children. At the end of the 18th century Friedrich Justin Bertuch began publishing his “Bilderbuch[s] für Kinder”. It was written in many different languages and was published in different places. In it, he not only described the picture book as "indispensable" for the upbringing of children, but also pointed out that the child's eye was still in the process of developing and that the illustrations should take this into account.

Main Topics of the Workshop

Proposals for contributions on the following topics are conceivable:

  • Periodization in the (transnational) history of picture books, their illustrations, character and content
  • (Transnational) history of the actors around the pictures of the picture book: illustrators, publishers, teachers and collectors
  • Distribution and use of picture books in different times and places
  • Technical, economic and social production conditions of picture books and their cultural and historical characteristics Changes
  • History of scientific knowledge and research on pictures and picture books

Terms of Submission

Please send your abstract and a short biography by Sunday, January 31, 2021, by e-mail to Stefanie Kollmann () by Sunday, January 31, 2021.

The workshop will take place digitally. In order to provide sufficient space for discussion, the presentation should be short (approx. 10 min.). Please focus your presentation on the main points. As a preparation in advance, all participants will receive an electronic handout with more detailed information for each contribution. These texts (5 to 6 pages) must be submitted by Thursday, April 15, 2021. After the workshop the revised texts will be published digitally in the Open Access Repository peDOCS as conference proceedings


  • Sunday, January 31, 2021: Submission of proposals
  • Monday, February 15, 2021: Communication of acceptance of proposals
  • Thursday, April 1, 2021: Publication of programme
  • Thursday, April 15, 2021: Submission of short paper
  • Thursday/Friday, May 6/7: Workshop
  • Thursday, July 1, 2021: Submission of revised papers for the digital publication
  • Wednesday, September 1, 2021: Publication of the papers
last modified Dec 15, 2020