We’ve been doing presentations each class, and the girl who went today was probably my favorite presentation so far. There is a new brand of literary criticism that analyzes books for how the present environmental issues. Especially in children’s literature, the criticism looks at the didactic nature of a book and how a book teaches a child about the human/nature relationship.
She used eco-criticism on the last book in the Atherton series, The Dark Planet, which I haven’t read, but still really enjoyed listening to her analysis. She said that while Carman did a good job of showing that in order for humans to lead a healthy happy life, they need a clean environment to live in (correspondingly if you have a filthy, uncared for environment you will live a correspondingly sickly, unhappy life), Carman also failed at conveying a key message. In the book, The Dark Planet (a polluted and overcrowded planet that brings out disease in it’s inhabitants) is miraculously cleaned up with crystals that are suddenly found and released. This is not sending a good message to our youth because it’s essentially advocating complacency and instilling the idea that miraculous technology will eventually come along to clean up our messes.
I also liked the point she made in her presentation about the lack of species diversity on the utopian satellite planet. In their utopian world, there are only horses, sheep, rabbits, and a handful of genetically engineered creatures/plants. There are no fish, birds, or insects. What does this say to our youth about protecting endangered species?
Really fun presentation to listen to. I did not get bored once. Then we talked about folktales… where I did get bored. I just wanted to get out so I could work on my writing, which I’m going to do as soon as I finish this post!
Only 4 more classes!!!