1st Edition

Poetics and Ethics of Anthropomorphism Children, Animals, and Poetry

By Christopher Kelen, Jo Chengcheng Copyright 2022
    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    Poetics and Ethics of Anthropomorphism: Children, Animals, and Poetry investigates a kind of poetry written mainly by adults for children. Many genres, including the picture book, are considered in asking for what purposes ‘animal poetry’ is composed and what function it serves. Critically contextualising anthropomorphism in traditional and contemporary poetic and theoretical discourses, these pages explore the representation of animals through anthropomorphism, anthropocentrism, and through affective responses to other-than-human others. Zoomorphism – the routine flipside of anthropomorphism – is crucially involved in the critical unmasking of the taken-for-granted textual strategies dealt with here. With a focus on the ethics entailed in poetic relations between children and animals, and between humans and nonhumans, this book asks important questions about the Anthropocene future and the role in it of literature intended for children. Poetics and Ethics of Anthropomorphism: Children, Animals, and Poetry is a vital resource for students and for scholars in children’s literature.


    1. Dear Little Man: Who’s Talking to Whom?

    2. How Practical are these Cats? Animal Poetry at Large

    3. The Little Dog Laughed to See Such Sport: The Childish Appeal of Humanimal Ambivalences

    4. Beware the Jubjub Bird: Cautionary Verses Revisited

    5. If You Go Down to the Woods Today: Wild and Domestic Textuality

    6. ‘They’d Eaten Every One’: Food Anthropomorphism in ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ and Elsewhere

    7. This Little Piggie Went to Market: A New Humanimal Politics for Poetry


    Christopher (Kit) Kelen is a poet and painter, resident in the Myall Lakes of NSW. Published widely since the 1970s, he has a dozen full length collections in English as well as translated books of poetry in Chinese, Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish, Indonesian, Swedish, Norwegian, and Filipino. A Greek bi-lingual volume is in preparation. His latest book of poetry in English is Poor Man's Coat - Hardanger Poems, published by UWAP in 2018. Kit's Book of Mother is forthcoming from Puncher & Wattmann in 2021. Emeritus Professor at the University of Macau, where he taught for many years, Kit Kelen is also a Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle. With Björn Sundmark, Kelen has edited two large-scale Routledge anthologies in the Children’s Literature area: The Nation in Children’s Literature (2013) and Child Autonomy and Child Governance in Children's Literature: Where Children Rule? (2017). In 2017, Kelen was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Malmö, in Sweden.  

    Chengcheng You is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Macau. Her articles appeared in Children’s Literature in Education, Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, The Lion and the Unicorn, International Research in Children’s Literature, and History of Education and Children’s Literature. Her publications also include book chapters published in the anthologies: Child Governance and Autonomy in Children’s Literature (2017), Debatable Lands: New Directions in Children’s Gothic (2017), and Posthumanism in Fantastic Fiction (2018). Currently her research interests include critical approaches to children’s literature, interdisciplinary studies in animals and literature, adaptation of Chinese classics, and the translation of Children’s Literature.