Passages of Hope

November 10-13, 2016
Vermont College of Fine Arts
Montpelier, Vermont

Participating presenters included:

Kwame Alexander • M.T. Anderson • Deirdre Baker • Alison Bechdel • Ashley Bryan • Liz Bicknell • Susan Cooper • Sarah Ellis • K. T. Horning • Gregory Maguire • Katherine Paterson • Pam Muñoz Ryan • Steve Sheinkin • Suzanne Fisher Staples • Rebecca Stead

Additional presenters will be announced.  

In the world of children’s literature an unquestioned belief has long been that art for the young should present a vision of hope.  In 1818 Mrs. Sherwood showed virtue as a bulwark against eternal damnation.  In 1865 Lewis Carroll celebrated the power of youthful imagination to counter the chaos created by adults.  In 1952 E.B. White presented a vision of the cyclical and self-healing natural world. In 1978 Katherine Paterson gave us a child who scraped out her own hope in the face of adult weakness and neglect.

Today, with holes in the ozone and fractures in social institutions and in the very ground under our feet, how can we present hopeful narratives that are both authentic and rigorous?  Where does the obligation to instill hope stand in the twenty-first century?  In this conference you are invited to join writers and illustrators for the young in tackling questions of the nature of hope. Is it synonymous with optimism?  With a happy ending? What is the responsibility of the artist? Does the belief still hold?