For our second talk this term I am delighted to welcome David Whitley from the University of Cambridge to CLOC. David will be speaking on Friday May 30th, 4pm.
‘ “We’ll eat you up we love you so”: Children, Animals and the Poetics of the Food Chain.’
As has often been observed, food tends to play a disproportionately significant role within children’s literature. Food has often been considered in terms of its psychological and social functions, within narratives for younger readers particularly. Yet we rarely consider the implications of how imagery of eating in children’s literature also relates to our position as human beings within the food chain as a whole. In many well-known and highly influential instances, the question of who eats what (or who eats whom, since animals are so often personalised) is of very considerable dramatic significance. But, in this talk, I will ask whether, beyond their dramatic import, such instances also raise questions about how we position ourselves as human beings and what children may be learning from the wider contexts of the stories we tell them. I suggest that the imagery of creatures eating each other - with which we ‘feed’ our children - both rehearses and masks fundamental anxieties about where we stand in the natural order. Drawing on examples from a wide variety of different modes – fiction, film, picture books and poetry – I also pose some interesting formal questions about the poetics of the predatory instinct in children’s literature.
Tea and coffee will be served after the talk.
St Cross Room, St Cross College, OX1 3LZ
RSVP cara dot bartels-bland at stx dot ox dot ac dot uk.