Children’s Literature and the Posthuman: Animal, by Zoe Jaques

By Zoe Jaques

An research of id formation in kid's literature, this publication brings jointly children’s literature and up to date severe issues with posthuman identification to argue that children’s fiction bargains subtle interventions into debates approximately what it skill to be human, and specifically approximately humanity’s courting to animals and the flora and fauna. In complicating questions of human id, ecology, gender, and expertise, Jaques engages with a multifaceted posthumanism to appreciate how philosophy can emerge from kid's fable, disclosing how such myth can construct upon prior traditions to symbolize advanced problems with humanness to more youthful audiences. Interrogating where of the human throughout the non-human (whether animal or mechanical) leads this ebook to have interpretations that noticeably leave from the serious culture, which, in its issues with the socialization and illustration of the kid, has overlooked better epistemologies of humanness. The publication considers canonical texts of kid's literature along contemporary bestsellers and flicks, finding texts equivalent to Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Pinocchio (1883) and the Alice books (1865, 1871) as very important works within the evolution of posthuman rules. This examine offers radical new readings of children’s literature and demonstrates that the style deals subtle interventions into the character, limitations and dominion of humanity.

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Example text

Yet neither book goes so far as to represent reason, however flawed it might be, as operating in animal form, or to depict humans without it. In this way, these tales of othering, while potentially radical and demonstrably satirical, delimit the extent to which child readers are exposed to posthuman concerns and demonstrate that simply embodying animality or satirizing humanity is not necessarily the same as, to recall N. Katherine Hayles’s expression, becoming posthuman. In the later books, however, the stability of the human becomes much more fractured in a manner that interestingly predicts facets of posthuman discourse.

This book is thus deliberately non-linear; what emerges is not a tracing of an evolution of humanist agendas to posthuman ones. Instead, these fictions demonstrate the messy, confused, unstable and dynamic ways in which the human and the more-than-human have been, and continue to be, conceived—a fusion of ideas that operates very much in accordance with the hybrid nature of posthuman philosophy itself. ╇See, for example, Perry Nodelman, The Hidden Adult: Defining Children’s Literature (2008) and Maria Nikolajeva, Children’s Literature Comes of Age: Toward a New Aesthetic (1996).

Gulliver’s miserable struggle to know Houyhnhnm virtue but to exist as a human-yahoo-other highlights attempts to embody a posthuman future: to be “too premature” in celebrating the end of humanity. As Hayles puts it, “[w]e do not leave our history behind but rather, like snails, carry it around with us in the sedimented and enculturated instantiations of our pasts we call our bodies” (“The Human in the Posthuman”, 137). For Gulliver, a futurist vision of a posthuman potentiality, albeit one itself haunted by “filthy Yahoos” (215), becomes just such an acculturated instantiation from his past, but it makes for a demonstrably bleak and unrelenting future.

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