Project outline

Children have been reading mass-produced comics magazines since around 1900. These magazines' content and format have been scripting children's behaviour. Drawing from Robin Bernstein, I state that the magazines "script" their readers' actions, in the sense that they issued a set of prompts (71).

Reading these periodicals, often asked children not only to read, but to 'go through the motions' (to apply Hannah Field's research on movable books). Their cut out pages, like the readers' letters sections, the informative articles and even gags prescribed gender roles, demanded to perform racialized stereotypes, to play or to recite.

The project is interested in understanding how  French-language children periodicals between 1930 and 1960 influenced the behaviour of their readers? What productive reception did they trigger? 

My one-year postdoctoral research project focuses on a specific corpus of children's magazines contained in the Alain Van Passen collection of the Ghent University Library. 

The periodicals currently under research are:

  • the Belgian Petits Belges was a weekly for youth published by the Abbey of Averbode in 1920. It was renamed Bonjour in the 1950s, and became Tremplin in 1960. Being a Belgian publication it also came out in a Dutch version: Zonneland. From 1929, comics were introduced to the magazine. During the Second World War the magazine was censored and forbidden in 1942, but it continued publishing in Flanders. It is a Catholic magazine that contains a lot of religious texts, from information about the lithurgic calendar and prayers to descriptions of the lives of saints. François Brouyaux was an artist working for the magazine.
  • the Franco-belge magazine Spirou was also a weekly, published by Dupuis since 1938 for a French and Belgian audience. It's Dutch version was called Robbedoes. Jijé and Franquin were leading artists working for the magazine.
  • the French Le Journal de Mickey (1939-1944) 


Bernstein, Robin. Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. New York University Press, 2011.

Field, Hannah. Playing with the Book: Victorian Movable Picture Books and the Child Reader. University of Minnesota Press, 2019.