The NatCul Matrix

The Nature in Culture Matrix (NatCul Matrix, see Figure 1) is a conceptual tool developed by the NaChiLitCul, The matrix is based on the group’s joint readings and discussions of key ecocritical concepts and texts, and on our complex knowledge and combined expertise in the fields of children’s and YA literature and culture. The matrix takes the form of a system of coordinates in which a variety of cultural expressions can be discussed in relation to a vertical continuum ranging from a celebration to a problematization of nature, and a horizontal continuum ranging from an anthropocentric to an ecocentric horizon. The lines in the coordinate system are a way of depicting how views of nature are dependent on how humans position themselves in nature both at ontological and quotidian levels. The matrix is circumscribed by a third dimension, that of techne. The concept of techne stems from rhetorical theory and is here understood as the art of shaping and manufacturing. The dimension of techne signals the fact that children’s and YA texts and cultures are already mediated, hence are crafted, representations of nature. Furthermore, it calls attention to recent developments within biotechnology, in which nature is, to an ever-increasing extent, subject to cultural influence and human manipulation. The matrix is conceived as an organic thought figure as it has evolved over time and in response to different texts (literary and critical) and scholarly discussions.

The Natcult Matrix