Wednesday, 19 February 2020


Europe and the Child: Crisis, Activism, Culture

Manchester Metropolitan University

Convened by Dr Eleanor Byrne and Dr Chloé Germaine Buckley at Manchester Metropolitan University and funded by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence

Date: Wednesday 19th February 2020

Time: 9am - 5pm

Location: Manchester Metropolitan University

Tickets: Free – Available on Eventbrite

Europe and the Child: Crisis, Activism, Culture is a one-day symposium convened by Dr Eleanor Byrne and Dr Chloé Germaine Buckley at Manchester Metropolitan University and funded by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies.

The Brexit vote in the UK exposed many national divides, one distinctive one was generational, with youth overwhelmingly voting to remain. Despite the rise of populism, a febrile political discourse around Brexit and immigration in the UK, and a pervasive denigration of the UK’s relationship with European countries across the media, the voices of children and young people have emerged as dynamic and thoughtful interventions in current debates. Prominent youth leaders have emerged who have managed to mobilise transnational Europe-wide protests, networks and new movements. These protests and movements have garnered extreme and dichotomous media responses, which expose both a paradoxical concept of childhood and an uneasiness with a transnational youth culture and collaboration. Likewise, the climate crisis has both mobilized and challenged posterity ethics that position children and young people as objects of care. Extreme media responses towards the global impact of Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg and her school strikes, as well as other young people involved in protests across the globe such as Black Lives Matter, Antifa and Extinction Rebellion, suggest a sense of unease around children and young people who refuse to remain innocent about the darkness that threatens them. At same time, these are also hopeful youth voices in that they express transnational, cosmopolitan and global identities.

The Symposium will feature academic papers from different disciplines (literature, politics, sociology) as well as a youth-led panel. We are also pleased to welcome the contribution of creative writers whose work for young people engages with the idea of Europe and children’s place within it. We are still accepting papers, so if you would like to contribute please get in touch by January 20th.

Featured Speakers

Matt Killeen

Matt Killeen was born in Birmingham and, like many of his generation, was absorbed by tales of the war and obsessed with football from an early age. Guitars arrived at fourteen, wrecking any hopes of so-called normality. He has had a great many careers – some creative, some involving laser guns – and has made a living as an advertising copywriter and largely ignored music and sports journalist. He fulfilled a childhood ambition and became a writer for the world’s best-loved toy company in 2010. He lives near London with his soulmate, children, dog and musical instruments, looking wistfully north at a hometown that has been largely demolished & rebuilt in his lengthy absence. Orphan Monster Spy, his first novel, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards and the Branford Boase Award, as well as winning the 2019 SCBWI Crystal Kite. The sequel, Devil Darling Spy, will be published in Spring 2020.
@by_Matt_Killeen #OrphanMonsterSpy #DevilDarlingSpy

Shirley-Anne McMillan

Shirley-Anne is a writer and teacher from Co. Down, Northern Ireland. In her work as the Alternative Chaplain for an Integrated School, she facilitates an integration group and the country's first high school Gender/Sexuality Alliance. Shirley-Anne studied at Queen's University, Belfast and Manchester Metropolitan University, and she has published three Young Adult Novels set in Northern Ireland.

Dean Atta

Named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday and “one of poetry’s greatest modern voices” by Gay Times, poet Dean Atta’s work has appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4, often dealing with themes of gender, identity, race and growing up. Dean regularly performs across the UK and internationally. He is a member of Keats House Poets Forum and Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, as well as a Tutor for Arvon and Poetry School. Dean's debut poetry collection was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His latest book, The Black Flamingo, follows a mixed-race gay teen as he spreads his wings at university as a drag performer; a bold story about embracing your uniqueness and finding your inner strength.

This event is free and open to the public.

To book tickets please visit:


10:00 Registration. Coffee and Tea

Opening Remarks (Geoffrey Manton LT 5) Dr Ellie Byrne and Dr Chloe Germaine Buckley

10:15 – 12:15. Panel 1: YA and Children’s Literature: Reading/Writing Europe (Geoffrey Manton 235)

Chaired by Dr Ellie Byrne

Relational Models of Self: Undoing the Human/Animal Divide in Tamora Pierce’s Wolf-Speaker – Leah Phillips

Childhood, and Colonial Memory in French Youth Literature – Beatrice Ivey

Entering Europa: The BrexKidLit Dystopia Before and After the Referendum – Blanka Grzegorczyk

10:15 – 12:15. Panel 2: Youth Activism and Culture (Geoffrey Manton 234)

Chaired by Chloé Germaine Buckley

Youth Activism and the Climate Emergency: the Public Sphere and Vulnerability – Paul Giladi

“Earth Heroes”? The Problem of Futurity in Children’s Climate Crisis Fiction – Chloé Germaine Buckley

How do we support young people taking action in an era of depoliticization? – Ben Bowman

12:15 – 1:15. Lunch Provided (GM 226)

1:15 – 2:00 Creative Panel (GM LT5)

Challenging Futures: YA Authors Matt Killeen and Shirley McMillan in conversation with Marie Basting

2:00 – 3:00 Speaking out: Youth-Led Panel (GM LT5)

Presentation: Co-producing creative partnerships across autonomous groups of young people in Manchester, Rennes and Bologna; An ERASMUS+ project concerned with youth participation – Harriet Rowley, Chloe Malandra, Joshua Wilkinson and David Hall.

Youth Discussion Panel: Challenges and Opportunities for Young People in Europe

3:00 – 3:30 Refreshments

3:30 – 4:30 Celebrated YA novelist Dean Atta (GM LT5)

Reading, discussion and book signing, chaired by Dr. Muzna Rahman

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