Children’s Literature and the Posthuman: Animal, Environment, Cyborg (Hardback) book cover

Children’s Literature and the Posthuman

Animal, Environment, Cyborg

By Zoe Jaques

© 2015 – Routledge

272 pages

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Hardback: 9780415818438
pub: 2014-12-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203581490
pub: 2015-02-11
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An investigation of identity formation in children's literature, this book brings together children’s literature and recent critical concerns with posthuman identity to argue that children’s fiction offers sophisticated interventions into debates about what it means to be human, and in particular about humanity’s relationship to animals and the natural world. In complicating questions of human identity, ecology, gender, and technology, Jaques engages with a multifaceted posthumanism to understand how philosophy can emerge from children's fantasy, disclosing how such fantasy can build upon earlier traditions to represent complex issues of humanness to younger audiences. Interrogating the place of the human through the non-human (whether animal or mechanical) leads this book to have interpretations that radically depart from the critical tradition, which, in its concerns with the socialization and representation of the child, has ignored larger epistemologies of humanness. The book considers canonical texts of children's literature alongside recent bestsellers and films, locating texts such as Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Pinocchio (1883) and the Alice books (1865, 1871) as important works in the evolution of posthuman ideas. This study provides radical new readings of children’s literature and demonstrates that the genre offers sophisticated interventions into the nature, boundaries and dominion of humanity.


"Jaques uncovers the posthuman nature of characters and types that we recognize from children’s literature: talking animals and plants, and the uncanny half-life of toys and robots are discussed through the lens of philosophers like Donna Haraway and Jacques Derrida… Jaques’s study successfully makes some interesting connections and convincingly argues for children’s literature, a place where non-traditional subjectivities are often explored, as an exciting arena for posthumanist studies." - Forum for Modern Language Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Child, the Book and the Posthuman Ethic Part I: Animal 1. Creature 2. Pet Part II: Environment 3. Tree 4. Water Part III: Cyborg 5. Robot 6. Toy Conclusion: A Question: Who are you?

About the Author

Zoe Jaques is Lecturer in Children’s Literature and Education at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Homerton College. She is co-author of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass: A Publishing History (2013).

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Science Fiction & Fantasy
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature