European Network of Picturebook Research

About the conference

The European Network of Picturebook Research was established during the first picturebook conference in Barcelona in September 2007.

The network was proposed by Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (University of Tübingen, Germany) who was a member of both the reading committee and co-organizer of the Barcelona-conference, and of the core group of picturebook researchers, which includes/d Evelyn Arizpe, Nina Christensen, Teresa Colomer, Elina Druker, Maria Nikolajeva and Cecilia Silva-Díaz.

Since then, biannual picturebook conferences have been held in different European countries:

  • 2007 at the University of Barcelona, organized by Teresa Colomer and Cecilia Silva-Díaz (New impulses in picturebook research: aesthetic and cognitive aspects of picturebooks)
  • 2009 at the University of Glasgow, organized by Evelyn Arizpe and Maureen Farell (Beyond Borders: Art, narrative and culture in picturebooks) 
  • 2011 at the University of Tübingen, organized by Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (History and Theory of the Picturebook) 
  • 2013 at the University of Stockhom, organized by Elina Druker (Picturebooks as meeting places: Text, image, ideology) 
  • 2015 at the University of Gdansk, organized by Malgorzata Cackowska (Picturebooks, Democracy and Social Change) 
  • 2017 at the University of Padova, organized by Marnie Campagnaro (Home and Lived-In Spaces in Picturebooks from the 1950s to the Present) 

The aims of these conferences are

  1. to foster international picturebook research 
  2. to promote young researchers who are focusing on the investigation of picturebooks 
  3. to publish selected papers presented at the conferences through international publishers or in peer-reviewed journals.

Background information

Nonfiction picturebooks have been published concurrently with fictional picturebooks for decades, if not centuries. Clearly recognized as an art form on a par with fiction picturebooks, nonfiction picturebooks have been honoured with their own category for awards at the prestigious Bologna Children's Book Fair since 1995. In spite of this, the scholarly field of picturebooks and picturebook theory have paid comparatively little attention to nonfiction picturebooks. 

Rather than dwelling on the reasons behind this lacuna within picturebook research, there is a need to bring together studies that attempt to remedy this deficiency, and to establish a theoretical framework or starting point for systematic and inventive approaches to various kinds of nonfiction picturebooks, both printed and digital. From pop-up books on urban development and big vehicles, to biographies about artists, adventurers, scientists, kings and queens, to graphic nonfiction on terrorism, the World Wars, and stem cells, to reference works such as atlases, encyclopaedias, ABC-books, and picture dictionaries, nonfiction picturebooks span a dizzying range of different themes, formats, and intended addressees.

Central to the investigation of nonfiction picturebooks is the construction and validation of knowledge and the acknowledgement that the dissemination of knowledge in nonfiction picturebooks varies according to the context (time, place, function) in which the text was created. Questions for inquiry include the kind of knowledge that is examined and why, and the ways in which knowledge is presented and organized in the book.