Analysing Plant Representation in Children’s Literature: The Phyto‑Analysis Map

By Lykke Guanio-Uluru

Recent biological research (Trewavas, 2003; Mancuso & Viola, 2013; Gagliano, 2018) has (re)demonstrated the variety and complexity of the adaptive behaviour of plants. In parallel with these findings, and in acknowledgement of the important role played by plants in the biosphere and climate of the planet, the representation of plants in philosophy, arts and literature has become an object of study within the environmental humanities. In response to the rapidly developing field of critical plant studies, the representation of plants in literatures for children and young adults are now accumulating. Even as the number of studies is increasing, there is as yet no cohesive framework for the analysis of plant representation in children’s literature. This article addresses this gap. Inspired by the Nature-in-Culture Matrix, an analytical figure that provides an overarching schema for ecocritical analysis of children’s texts and cultures (see Goga et al., 2018), this article presents an analytical framework for plant-oriented analysis, the Phyto-Analysis Map. This map has been developed with reference to central concepts from the field of critical plant studies, and its usefulness is elucidated through literary examples. Developed with children’s fiction in mind, the map also has potential application with children’s non-fiction, which often employs fictional textual techniques.

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