Presentation Title

Reconnecting Nature and Humanity: the Environment in Children's Literature

Faculty Mentor

Lewis Long

Start Date

23-11-2019 1:00 PM

End Date

23-11-2019 1:15 PM

Location

Markstein 107

Session

oral 3

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

This year, an estimated four million people participated in a global youth climate strike, possibly the largest climate strike in history, calling for action on climate change (Barclay and Resnick). With youth now leading the environmentalist movement, this research analyzes relevant academic articles and works of literature to understand the influence of western children’s literature on the development of the modern environmentalism and the surge in youth environmental action.

I found that contemporary western children’s literature encourages environmental action because it redefines the relationship between nature and society, previously considered distinct, as codependent by using children to diminish the boundaries between nature and society. Because both children and nature remained separate from the perceived toxicity of society in the Industrial Revolution, each was glorified as pure during the Romantic movement. As western society became increasingly distant from nature due to this perception of purity, children’s literature used children, who remained connected to society despite similar glorification, to bridge the gap. In children’s fiction such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, children have unique access to worlds or characters that exist in parallel to nature, causing the child to develop a heightened sense of empathy towards nature. Modern children’s literature strengthens this connection but reincorporates nature into human society, demonstrated, for example, by Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor in her analysis of The Great Kapok Tree. Children, therefore, understand that nature and human society are interdependent and develop a responsibility to protect the environment. The establishment of nature as mutually dependent upon humans in children’s literature has provided a key motivation for modern children to defend the environment and prepares for society to develop a healthier relationship with nature.

Works Cited

Barclay, Eliza, and Brian Resnick. “How Big Was the Global Climate Strike? 4 Million People, Activists Estimate.” Vox, Vox, 22 Sept. 2019, www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/9/20/20876143/climate-strike-2019-september-20-crowd-estimate.

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Nov 23rd, 1:00 PM Nov 23rd, 1:15 PM

Reconnecting Nature and Humanity: the Environment in Children's Literature

Markstein 107

This year, an estimated four million people participated in a global youth climate strike, possibly the largest climate strike in history, calling for action on climate change (Barclay and Resnick). With youth now leading the environmentalist movement, this research analyzes relevant academic articles and works of literature to understand the influence of western children’s literature on the development of the modern environmentalism and the surge in youth environmental action.

I found that contemporary western children’s literature encourages environmental action because it redefines the relationship between nature and society, previously considered distinct, as codependent by using children to diminish the boundaries between nature and society. Because both children and nature remained separate from the perceived toxicity of society in the Industrial Revolution, each was glorified as pure during the Romantic movement. As western society became increasingly distant from nature due to this perception of purity, children’s literature used children, who remained connected to society despite similar glorification, to bridge the gap. In children’s fiction such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, children have unique access to worlds or characters that exist in parallel to nature, causing the child to develop a heightened sense of empathy towards nature. Modern children’s literature strengthens this connection but reincorporates nature into human society, demonstrated, for example, by Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor in her analysis of The Great Kapok Tree. Children, therefore, understand that nature and human society are interdependent and develop a responsibility to protect the environment. The establishment of nature as mutually dependent upon humans in children’s literature has provided a key motivation for modern children to defend the environment and prepares for society to develop a healthier relationship with nature.

Works Cited

Barclay, Eliza, and Brian Resnick. “How Big Was the Global Climate Strike? 4 Million People, Activists Estimate.” Vox, Vox, 22 Sept. 2019, www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/9/20/20876143/climate-strike-2019-september-20-crowd-estimate.