ìKeeping Some Wildness Always Aliveî: Posthumanism and the Animality of Children’s Literature and Play

This article explores posthumanism as a philosophy that emphasizes human relationships with the natural world by examining representations of animality, both in children’s literature (e.g. titles such as Where the Wild Things Are, Wild, Virginia Wolf, and No Fits, Nilson!) and in children’s play in order to better understand the significance of philosophy in children’s literature and lives. By fostering a feeling of “necessary wilderness, ” or connection to nature (Almond, 2011, p. 110), and by practicing a sense of being in nature, “keeping some wildness always alive ” (Lerman, 2012, p. 311) through literary engagement and animal play, the authors suggest that children and adults can maintain an interconnectedness with the natural world, even when they cannot be in it themselves. Through a mixed methods approach that combines educational theory, ecocriticism, and qualitative research, we discuss links between children’s stories and bodies, identifying how becoming animals through narrative engagement and play reflects posthumanist theory in practice, and encourages a child’s embodied knowledge of nature. The authors also speak to the ways that embodied education approaches that encourage animal play and “expressive literary engagement ” [Sipe, 2002, pp. 476-483]) can support a shifting and necessary worldview informed by posthumanism, suggesting that philosophical change is necessary if humanity aims to survive the ecological and technological changes to come. © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

This article explores posthumanism as a philosophy that emphasizes human relationships with the natural world by examining representations of animality, both in children’s literature (e.g. titles such as Where the Wild Things Are, Wild, Virginia Wolf, and No Fits, Nilson!) and in children’s play in order to better understand the significance of philosophy in children’s literature and lives. By fostering a feeling of “necessary wilderness, ” or connection to nature (Almond, 2011, p. 110), and by practicing a sense of being in nature, “keeping some wildness always alive ” (Lerman, 2012, p. 311) through literary engagement and animal play, the authors suggest that children and adults can maintain an interconnectedness with the natural world, even when they cannot be in it themselves. Through a mixed methods approach that combines educational theory, ecocriticism, and qualitative research, we discuss links between children’s stories and bodies, identifying how becoming animals through narrative engagement and play reflects posthumanist theory in practice, and encourages a child’s embodied knowledge of nature. The authors also speak to the ways that embodied education approaches that encourage animal play and “expressive literary engagement ” [Sipe, 2002, pp. 476-483]) can support a shifting and necessary worldview informed by posthumanism, suggesting that philosophical change is necessary if humanity aims to survive the ecological and technological changes to come. © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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