Special issue on sustainability: Svenskämnets berättelser och berättelser i svenskämnet: ett temanummer om hållbarhet 

Detta är ForskULs andra temanummer, producerat tillsammans med två gästredaktörer.I Svenskämnets berättelser och berättelser i svenskämnet: ett temanummer om hållbarhet presenterar  Anna Lyngfelt och Katharina Dahlbäck fem artiklar som på olika sätt utgör exempel på det den brittiska professorn Kari Facer benämner ”närvarandets pedagogik”. Detta är en form av undervisning  där elever får fördjupa sin förståelse av samtidens företeelser och samtidigt ges tillfälle att öva sig i att se komplexiteten i det som sker, för att därigenom kunna utveckla tankar om potentiella framtidsvägar. Temanumret belyser på så sätt möjligheter att genom svenskämnet bidra till samhällets hållbarhetsarbete. Temanumret avslutas med en reflektion av just Kari Facer.

New PhD-thesis – by Ahmed Khateeb

This dissertation examines constructions of nature and childhood in a selection of contemporary Norwegian books for children and young adults. The selected titles are Stian Hole’s picturebook trilogy about Garmann (2006; 2008; 2010), the illustrated novel Tonje Glimmerdal (2009) by Maria Parr, and the novel Fredlaus (2006) by Ragnar Hovland. By engaging with ecocritical theory, philosophical texts on nature and formation by Rousseau and Thoreau, and Klafki’s theory of categorical Bildung, the main aim of the dissertation is to explore how the character’s experiences of and reflections on the landscapes they live in have formative qualities.

I have mainly dealt with the part of ecocriticism that discusses literary constructions of landscapes. Throughout the readings, I show that the selected texts reproduce culturally established ideas about pastoral and wild nature, and I argue that these ideas shape the characters’ interpretation and understanding of the landscapes.

As part of the analysis, I map the texts’ constructions of landscape and childhood against the “Nature-in-culture” matrix as developed in the research group “Nature in children’s literature and culture” at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. This matrix is an analytical tool that I use to discuss how the characters’ natural surroundings may be read as ecocritically formative landscapes where the relationship between nature and culture is celebrated, explored or problematized. Although I show that the texts reproduce anthropocentric and celebratory understandings of nature, I highlight that the characters problematize uncritical celebrations of nature, both in themselves and in other characters. This makes them examples of critical and self-reflexive characters who alternate between different ways of understanding themselves and their engagement with nature, while also assessing how other characters position themselves in the landscapes.

I find that the characters are constructed in dialogue with literary childhood figures from a romantic nature-celebrating tradition, while also arguing that it is possible to read the characters in dialogue with Anthropocene thinking by underscoring their problematizing reflections on human kind as a destabilizing ecological force found in the texts. These are formative reflections that lead the characters to the insight that their connections to the landscapes are not only idyllic and something to be celebrated but is also a complex relationship that involves responsibilities.

The dissertation is a contribution to the in-depth theoretical and analytical understanding of constructions of nature and childhood in children’s literature. It demonstrates that the primary texts examined reproduce established ideas about the relationship between nature and childhood, while also presenting new insights into the ways in which such thinking is explored and developed in new literary texts for children and young adults.

Climate Panel on Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

“Agency, Kinship, and Stories of Plants”

Join us for a conversation on the representation of plants in children’s and young adult hosted by Melanie Duckworth and Lykke Guanio-Uluru, co-editors of Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Panelists will include Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Anja Höing, Mónika Rusvai, and Terri Doughty. They will discuss critical plant theory, kinship, and the agency of plants in relation to a broad range of children’s and young adult literature from Sweden, the US; Australia and the UK: from Elsa Beskow’s plant people to the terrifying Wood in Naomi Novik’s Uprooted; from violent vegetables in Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 52-Storey Treehouse to arboreal poetry written by children.

Climate change, deforestation, mass plantations, pesticides and genetic engineering are affecting both plants and the complex ecosystems to which they – and we – belong. One way to begin addressing these issues is to start thinking of plants as more than just objects. Do plants think? We know that they sense – but do they feel? What characterizes plant knowledge? Should we think of them as people? Even if we do not – do plants have rights?

These are questions being asked in the emerging field of critical plant studies. Here, we explore such questions in relation to the rich and varied worlds of children’s literature, which offer unique opportunities to imagine and encounter the life of plants.

Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions and comments. The event will be recorded.

Event Information:

  • Format: Live Zoom webinar
  • Time: 09.00-10.00 CT
  • Date: March 11, 2022
  • Registration required
  • Webinar link will be emailed after registration

 

Lykke Guanio-Uluru is Professor of Literature at Western Norway University and researches literature and ethics, particularly plant studies, ecocriticism, fantasy, and game studies. She is the author of Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature (2015), co-editor of Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues (2018) and the author of multiple articles, the most recent of which is “Analysing Plant Representation in Children’s Literature: The Phyto‑Analysis Map

Melanie Duckworth is Associate Professor of English Literature at Østfold University College, Norway, where she teaches English, postcolonial, and children’s literature. Her research interests include Australian literature, plant studies, children’s literature, and ecocriticism, and she has published on Australian historical children’s fiction, Australian literature, ecofeminism, and contemporary poetry.

Two publications by Roberta Grandi – both on Watership Down

I. “Anyway, What’s a Doe More or Less?” Androcentrism in Watership Down (1972) and Tales from Watership Down (1996) by Richard Adams

Abstract: When Adams’s Watership Down reached the US market, it came under strong criticism for “its anti-feminist bias” (Resh Thomas 1974: 311). Several years later, Le Guin reiterated the censure of its “egregious sexism” (2009: 82), taxing the novel with falsifying animal behaviour. However, through the comparison of Lockley’s The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964) and Adams’ text, it is possible to prove that the latter’s representation of rabbits’ society is actually strongly indebted to his source text for its blatant androcentrism. The sequel, Tales from Watership Down, published in 1996, ostensibly tries to give the does more “floodlight” (Adams in Monaghan 2011: 14) and make amends for some of the accusations received. However, as the paper highlights, while the novel undeniably conveys a strong ecological message, its point of view remains strenuously patriarchal.

II. «Animals don’t behave like men… They have dignity and animality». Richard Adams’s Watership Down and Interspecies Relationships in the Anthropocene

Abstract: When thinking of animals in children’s literature, the pictures that usually come to mind are those of anthropomorphized beasts “merely embodying human tropes» (Jaques 2015: 45), talking creatures that mirror human behaviour and oftentimes interact with men. However, in Watership Down (1972), thanks to the accurate study of rabbits’ social organization as described in Lockley’s The Private Life of The Rabbit (1964), Adams manages to offer the reader a full “immersion in lapine natural history» (Buell 2014: 411). In this anthropocenic world, the “contact zones» (Haraway 2008:4) between men and animals are configured as conflict regions where the rabbits fight their daily battle against their predators. Yet, while all other non-human animals “do what they have to do» driven by fundamental needs, human beings are the only creatures whose attitude is both gratuitous and catastrophic. The article focuses on the way in which Adams, by allowing the reader to adopt a defamiliarized point of view on human behaviour “gives agency to the earth» (Battista 2011: 159). Moreover, the study also analyses the relevance and consequence of the fact that in Watership Down animals are capable of fostering fruitful interspecies relationships and even forming alliances with other creatures. Hence, “humanity» becomes a derogative term effectively replaced by “animality» as the byword for a new, eco-centric non-exploitative attitude towards other fellow creatures.

Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Edited By Melanie Duckworth and Lykke Guanio-Uluru

From the forests of the tales of the Brothers Grimm to Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree, from the flowers of Cicely May Barker’s fairies to the treehouse in Andy Griffith and Terry Denton’s popular 13-Storey Treehouse series, trees and other plants have been enduring features of stories for children and young adults. Plants act as gateways to other worlds, as liminal spaces, as markers of permanence and change, and as metonyms of childhood and adolescence. This anthology is the first compilation devoted entirely to analysis of the representation of plants in children’s and young adult literatures, reflecting the recent surge of interest in cultural plant studies within the environmental humanities.

Mapping out and presenting an internationally inclusive view of plant representation in texts for children and young adults, the volume includes contributions examining European, American, Australian, and Asian literatures and contributes to the research fields of ecocriticism, critical plant studies, and the study of children’s and young adult literatures.

Read chapters by

Nina Goga and Lykke Guanio-Uluru

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.

Read article here.

EMBODYING ENVIRONMENTAL RELATIONSHIP: A COMPARATIVE ECOCRITICAL ANALYSIS OF ‘JOURNEY’ AND ‘UNRAVEL’

By Lykke Guanio-Uluru

Departing from Jane Suzanne Carroll’s contention that “Landscapes are at once geographical and historical, natural and cultural, experienced and represented, and present a spatial interface between human culture and physical terrain” (2), this article draws on game studies (Aarseth; Sicart; Yee; Isbister) and on discussions of game design (Schell; Chen; Sahlin) to analyse the landscape and avatar design of Journey and Unravel. Developing the term semiotic register as an analytical lens, the article seeks to pin-point the means by which the two games move the player to adopt distinctly different attitudes and relationships to the games’ natural scenes. The article starts by positioning the study in relation to previous ecocritical analyses of games (Backe; Bianchi; Bohunicky; Chang; Lehner; Parham) and by discussing some aspects of indirect player management before analysing and comparing the two games in more detail.

Full text: https://ecozona.eu/article/view/3868

MA theses linked to NaChiLitCul 2016-2021

Click on title to access the thesis

2021

Elise Aarak Kiland: Fremstillinger av natur og klimakrisen i bildebøkene Hvorfor er jeg her? og Verden sa ja.

Ragnar Emmerhoff Lothe: Ein kulturell plantestudie av to norske fantasyromanar for barn og ungdom.

2020

Ingeborg Strandos: Å verte ein økoborgar. Ein studie av Ishavspirater og medvit om berekraftig utvikling.

Yvonne Kvellestad Skudalsnes: Lyrikk som tankerørsle omkring menneske og natur Økokritiske lesingar av diktsamlingane Eg er eg er eg er og Skogen den grøne av Ruth Lillegraven

2019

Ole Henrik Lund: Snakkar du til meg?: Ein økokritisk studie av forhandlingar om ulike livsformers verdi i teikneserien Amuletten av Kazu Kibuishi.

Line Alvheim Åse: Når vi blir voksne er det for seint»: Klimaengasjement i to romaner for barn og unge

Kristine Aga Haugom: When Ludology and Narratology Meet: A Comparative Analysis of an Ecofictional Video Game and an Ecofictional Book.

Tora Eide Hodneland: Cities of Tomorrow – Urban Landscapes and Urban Sustainability in Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy

2018

Marta Nagel-Alne: Naturuttrykk i fantastisk barnelitteratur – ein økokritisk analyse av tre norske barneromaner

Stine Bjerkhagen Standal: Posthuman Identities: Cyborg Characters in Young Adult Fiction

2017

Rebekka Hennum: Kjæledyr i realistisk barnelitteratur

2016

Espen Iversen: Klima, kriser og ulikhet. Om utsatte mennesker og områder i bildeboken Hvorfor er jeg her?