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Linde Vergeylen awarded Inclusivity Partnership

Children’s Books Ireland and TCD School of English announce Linde Vergeylen as the 2023 Inclusivity Partnership Awardee

Linde Vergeylen has been awarded this year’s Inclusivity Partnership with her proposal to investigate disabilities in verse novels for young adults.

The partnership allows researchers to work closely with experts in the area of children’s books to investigate key issues in contemporary publishing for young readers. This is one of the fruitful initiatives borne out of a long-standing collaboration between Children’s Books Ireland and the School of English, Trinity College Dublin.

A student from the M.Phil programme in Children’s Literature at TCD, Linde Vergeylen will lead an investigation into the representation of disabilities in Young Adult verse novels, under the supervision of Dr Pádraic Whyte.

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.

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.

Ruth Ennis on the dazzling world of verse novels for young readers

Linde Vergeylen said she was delighted to receive the award. “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.”

Elaina Ryan

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, is proud of the evolving partnership, and the research it generates. “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 that this was an important and exciting piece of research. “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.”