Narrative, Metaphor and Metamorphosis: The Ecological Potential of Contemporary Children's Literature

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Comparative literature studies
    • Contemporary literature
    • Literatures in English
    • Narratology
    • Literary studies not elsewhere classified
Children's Literature Environmental Humanities
Project description

Situated at the intersection of the study of children’s literature, ecocriticism and cognitive literary criticism, this project revisits the question of the transformational potential of children’s literature in light of the imaginative challenges raised by the Anthropocene, a newly identified epoch in which the geological make-up of the earth has been transformed by human impact. Starting from the assumption that, in order for substantial change to occur, children need to be stimulated to envision radically different power structures than those in place today, this project investigates the ecocritical potential of literary form and style in a corpus of contemporary children’s literature. Narrative strategies can expand the imagination to incorporate different temporal experiences, other sensorial realities, and different scalar point of views, ranging from local contexts to national identity and global phenomena. On the stylistic level, metaphorical language is singled out for its capacity to bring abstract ideas to the human embodied level. By applying these insights to a contemporary corpus of children's texts that engages narrative structure, literary style and visual imagery to bear on one of the most pressing issues of these times, this project brings a fuller understanding to the complex imaginative challenges of the Anthropocene and offers a new methodological framework to encourage further studies on (children’s) literature that tests the limits of the imagination.