Only Connect: Children’s Literature and Its Theory in the Extended Present
Keywords:temporality, kinship, technology, ageing, digital, borders
While an unfolding backlash against globalization has resulted in a tightening of the borders that police our movement through space, the borders that structure our temporal experience have been made newly porous by technologies that alter the terms of our presence in that space. This paper argues that our current condition of ubiquitous connectivity—our constant interconnection and integration into larger flows of information and communication—has brought about a paradoxical anxiety of disconnection that finds expression in the field’s growing “kinship” movement. In the digital age, instantaneous communication butts up against infinite information, giving birth to the extended present—a temporality in which the borders of the now seem to be both ever diminishing and expanding. What does this mean for the temporal alterity that subsists between adult and child as theoretical constructs? What happens to the adult-child relationship in the age of the constant update? This paper examines to what extent the field’s current turn toward models that emphasize similarity—or “kinship”—over difference constitutes an attempt to reaffirm a continuity between past and present that is threatened by the rise of new media technologies, and ponders what the attempt to cohere our disparate temporalities into the present might mean for the future of the field and those on whose behalf it proposes to speak.