In December 2019, the team of the International Youth Library received a long list of names, thesis topics and countries with the information about the following year's scholarship recipients. Eighteen guests from eleven countries had been invited to visit us in 2020.
With a little delay, our first guest of 2020 arrived in February:
Devika Mehran from India.
Her project: Understanding generic development and the construction of childhood in 20th century children’s fantasy. A study of selected British children’s fantasy fiction. It was such a pleasure to welcome Devika to our book castle. Here, she said, she had easy access to specialist literature in large quantities - a lot of which was difficult or impossible to get hold of in her home country. Devika also emphasized that she really appreciated the warm welcome right from day one and the great help in finding everything she needed for her research. In her own words, the IYL offered “a beautiful and mind-blowing experience”.
But then… it doesn't need to be explained what happened at the beginning of spring 2020. Flights were canceled and borders were closed in the hope of stopping the pandemic. So Devika had to leave us, quite suddenly, earlier than she thought. Many of our guests had to reschedule or cancel their stay and the whole book castle went into a “Little Briar Rose-Slumber".Only 4 months later, however, in the middle of July, our next international guest was able to visit us.
It was Vera Veldhuizen from the Netherlands, who stayed in Munich until the end of August, together with her husband. She was working on her PhD thesis with the title: The silencing impact of competing truth narratives in children’s literature. Because of all the regulations, she was only able to visit a little of Munich, but fortunately she was here during the "Blutenburger Sommerbühne" and enjoyed some cultural gems as open air events at the castle. When Vera left, she just said one thing: “I will come back!”
In the fall, many of our fellows had to cancel their stay, too, which saddened us all very much, even though the reasons were very understandable. Nevertheless, at the end of September and on 1st October we welcomed another two international researchers:
Sofia Venzel from Russia and Jessica Silva from Brazil.
Fortunately both currently live in the European Union (Spain and Portugal respectively), which made it possible for them to travel to Munich during the pandemic. Both enjoyed their stay very much and used the opportunity to do research for their projects. For Jessica it was "Representations of Aging in Children's Literature. Other cultural and linguistic contexts.", while Sofia worked on the subject of “Children‘s Books on Soviet (Communist) History”. Because so many other fellows had to cancel their visit to the IYL, Jessica and Sofia were offered the chance to extend their visit and both stayed until mid-December. For Jessica and Sofia, it wasn’t an easy time here, because all the restaurants, museums, and other interesting sites in and around Munich were closed. Nevertheless, the whole team of the IYL made a big effort to make their stay as rewarding as possible and in the end, there was even some snow in preparation for Christmas.
Out of 18 invited guests, only four were able to visit us in 2020. We were happy about every single one of them and hope that their stay with us was unforgettable (in a positive way ;-) ). Although it was a very difficult year, the International Youth Library has still done its utmost to promote and support international research on children's and young adult literature.
We are looking forward to the coming months, to new guests, exciting topics and interesting conversations.