Digital all-age literature? Artistic transits between genres, media and readerships


  • Hanna Dymel-Trzebiatowska


Picturebooks, apps, digitalization, Scandinavian children's literature, implied reader


The purpose of the contribution is to discuss the creation of new, hybrid literary and artistic forms within the domain traditionally called literature for children and young adults. Using examples from Scandinavia, I reveal the transgression of literary genres, readerships and artistic modes generated by two global phenomena: digitalization and the ongoing disappearance of generation gaps. During recent decades, the boundaries between the implied reader, as well as between the visual and verbal, appear to have blurred if not disappeared. High-quality artistic picture books have taken on serious life and death issues and are now broadly discussed by academics. The clear-cut division of books for children and books for adults is being replaced by the popular term "literature for all ages". Even the exhibit book– a subgenre perceived customarily as simplistic and directed at the youngest children – is losing its seemingly obvious readership of one to two year olds in favour of adults, with one representative example of that modern trend being Titta Max grav! (1991) by Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson. Furthermore, the digital age has provided us with technologies which sometimes make it difficult to decide whether we are still dealing with literature. For example, the growing popularity of "picture book apps" raises a number of questions, including whether these multimodal forms of art can be considered as new, updated versions of books or as autonomous media, similar to computer games. These observations raise the question of whether the future will belong to digital all-age literature – a hybrid of the two above-mentioned tendencies.