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CFP: Children’s Literature and Climate Change

Special Issue of The Lion and the Unicorn

Guest Editors: Marek Oziewicz, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Lara Saguisag, College of Staten Island-City University of New York

We seek essays on how children’s literature empowers young people to productively engage with the
challenges of climate change. After decades of climate change denial and toothless mainstream
response, young people are angry. In response to climate change illiteracy and the impotence and
negligence of adult-led institutions, teenage activists such as Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Greta
Thunberg are calling for radical and immediate action. Their voices are now being amplified by
millions of adults, who discovered during the pandemic that they are expendable in a system that
considers unlivable wages, unaffordable healthcare, underfunded education, unwholesome food,
unregulated destruction of the planet, and mass sacrifice of all life to be an acceptable price for the
benefit of the few in the ecocidal “market economy.” How does children’s literature and media stoke
this transformative anger and inspire young people to address the climate crisis and fight for their
fundamental rights to life, health, and sustenance? How can educators and scholars of children’s
literature support this fight? What new concepts, approaches, and narratives are needed to
accelerate the sociopolitical revolution that will dismantle the status quo of slow violence against all
life on the planet, or what Amitav Ghosh calls “the Great Derangement”? In this issue, we intend to
bring together innovative research on children’s literature that attends to multiple facets of climate
change and advances a conversation about the planetary future we can and want to create.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of children’s literature on climate change in raising young people’s awareness about their responsibility to the biosphere;
  • Depictions of climate change across various genres and forms, including picturebooks, chapter books, comics, short stories, and novels;
  • Films, apps, music, and games that engage with climate change and seek to mobilize youth action;
  • Constructions of childhood in climate change narratives and discourses;
  • Climate change and youth participation in community protests, political campaigns, nonviolent civil disobedience, ecotage (ecosabotage), and ecorism (ecoterrorism);
  • Climate change narratives about and by Indigenous youth and youth of color, who are often at the forefront of climate justice initiatives and whose communities are disproportionately threatened by climate change;
  • Children’s and YA books that link responsibility to climate change with, in the words of Kim Q. Hall, “commitments to futures that are queer, crip, and feminist”;
  • Depictions of environmental racism and classism as facets of climate change;
  • Climate change and human migrations, including stories about climate refugees;
  • Comparative studies of children’s and YA literature on climate change published in the global north and the global south;
  • Visions of climate futures, including discourses of hope or despair;
  • Reimagining and restructuring institutions of children’s literature that depend on, profit from, and support polluting, extractive industries;
  • Intersections of critical discourse on climate change and children’s literature scholarship, including new taxonomies and emerging genres apposite to the challenges of conceptualizing climate change, from environmental literature and cli-fi to eco-fiction and beyond;
  • Reevaluations of existing literary traditions through new theoretical concepts or approaches such as energy humanities, environmental humanities, indigenous futurisms, the Anthropocene, ecocritical posthumanism, and other lenses.

If you have any questions, guest editors Marek Oziewicz and Lara Saguisag can be reached at
LU.Climateissue@gmail.com . Essays are due by August 20, 2020, but if you need a few days’
extension, let us know. Submissions should be in the range of 4000 to 8000 words, although we will
also consider shorter, forum-length essays. Accepted articles will appear in The Lion and the Unicorn,
vol. 45, no. 2 (2021).

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