Inclusivity Partnership Awardee 2023 Announced

July 2023
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Linde Vergeylen, Inclusivity Partnership Awardee 2023
Linde Vergeylen, Inclusivity Partnership Awardee 2023

Children’s Books Ireland and the School of English (Trinity College Dublin) have today announced the recipient of the 2023 Inclusivity Partnership Award.

The partnership enables researchers to work closely with experts in the area of children’s books to investigate key issues in contemporary publishing for young readers. The recipient, Linde Vergeylen, is a student from the M.Phil programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin.

Under the supervision of Dr Pádraic Whyte, she will lead an investigation into the representation of disabilities in Young Adult verse novels.

The Inclusivity Partnership was formed in the wake of Children’s Books Ireland’s BOLD GIRLS project in 2018, which marked the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland. The project highlighted and celebrated bright, brave and bold women and girls in children’s books, and included an exhibition of items from Trinity Library’s children’s books collections.

Entitled Story Spinners: Irish Women and Children’s Books, the exhibition was curated by staff and students from the M.Phil programme in Children’s Literature. The Inclusivity Partnership is a continuation of many years of collaboration between the School of English and Children’s Books Ireland, and seeks to explore diversity, inclusivity and representation in contemporary Irish children’s books.

The partnership invited proposals for M.Phil dissertation projects in the areas of race and minority group representation, LGBTQ+ representation, ageism, (dis)abilities, mental health, and gender.

Recipient of the award, Linde Vergeylen, said, ‘I’m delighted to have received the Children’s Books Ireland Inclusivity Partnership Award to research disability in young adult verse novels. Through representations of disability, Irish writers such as Sarah Crossan and, more recently, C.G. Moore, have been instrumental in popularising the verse novel genre for young readers.

'Told through poetry, these stories experiment with how words fall on the page, pushing the boundaries of form just as disabled experiences themselves still push against societal “norms” and expectations. I hope in my research to explore this connection – why so many stories about disability are told in verse – and what the disabled and the able-bodied reader might come to understand through reading them.’

CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan, said, ‘We are proud to see this partnership evolving year on year, generating a body of research which serves not only to interrogate and examine published work by Irish authors and illustrators but, in many cases, to highlight the gaps that exist, the stories that remain untold and the voices that are still missing from the canon. We are excited by Linde Vergeylen’s proposal and in particular by her decision to focus on verse novels, an increasingly popular format with great scope to explore issues of inclusion, representation and diversity in innovative ways.’

Associate Professor and the co-director of the M.Phil. in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Pádraic Whyte, said, ‘This is an important and exciting piece of research that examines representations of disability in contemporary Young Adult verse novels. Linde’s project takes an innovative interdisciplinary approach, combining disability studies and children’s literature studies to further our understanding of the potential impact of such writing and the differing ways it can be read and understood.

'We are delighted to continue this Inclusivity Partnership that creates a vital space for students to build upon knowledge they have gained throughout the M.Phil programme and that provides opportunities to advance original research in the area of diverse and inclusive books.’