The essays for this issue of The Lion and Unicorn consider how we know the self.
In “How to Think with Animals in Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories and the Wrongs of Woman; Or, Maria,” Heather Klemann argues that Mary Wollstonecraft's fiction for children and for adults share a significant narrative strategy: that of using animal behavior to depict and comment on humans' moral and rational development. Klemann shows how Wollstonecraft diverges from the sentimental convention of anthromorphizing animals found in pedagogical writing by John Locke, Isaac Watts, Sarah Trimmer, and others. Rather, Wollstonecraft critiques unjust family and social systems that render humans into the rational and moral equivalent of animals, showing how humans may be “animalized.”
Both younger and older readers may know themselves in relation to sports. Dawn Heineken explores the tensions between the goals and execution of female empowerment in popular sports fiction. Focusing on the marketing and the narratives of the Pretty Tough series (2007–12), Heineken demonstrates that the series employs postfeminist rhetorics of “choice” and “strength” and individual effort, but fails to acknowledge the realities of encountering entrenched patriarchal, racial, and class privilege in the world of sports. We are still waiting, Heineken concludes, for a young adult sports fiction that can “empower diverse young female readers and inspire them to become athletes.”
Eleanor Estes, when she decided to write a sequel to her Moffat series some forty years after the publication of the third book, called it The Moffat Museum, in which the children, now grown up, decide to create a museum to commemorate their own histories. Museums, in their various manifestations, play key roles in a variety of children's books. Virginia Zimmerman's “The Curating Child: Runaways and Museums in Children's Fiction” examines this phenomenon, as it appears in two books, E. L. [End Page v] Konigsburg's Newbery-Award winning, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Brian Selznick's more recent novel, Wonderstruck. In both books, the protagonists take up residence in a museum, and Zimmerman explores the ramifications of this unusual choice of setting, in particular how the museum setting is used to bring to the child protagonists a sense of history, its continuity, and its enduring significance. By extension, the idea of a museum, where the prized cultural objects from our past are preserved and cared for, becomes a metaphor for the children's coming to terms with their own pasts, thereby aiding them in the difficult coming-of-age process.
Children's literature scholars who look critically at A. A. Milne's perennially popular tales of Winnie-the-Pooh frequently find they must overcome the presumptions of literary critics who see only warm and fuzzy stories of a bunch of hapless toy animals in a child's carefree imagination. Niall Nance-Carroll, in “Not Only, But Also: Entwined Modes and the Fantastic in A. A. Milne's Pooh Stories,” takes a fresh critical look at Milne, arguing that the “tangled narrative path of the Pooh stories” are key to their continuing appeal for both children and adults. Nance-Carroll examines how the Pooh stories invite multiple levels of reading and understanding, resulting from an “interplay of literary modes.” This interplay, Nance-Carroll contends, helps explain the diverse (even contradictory) reactions from readers. Expanding on Mike Cadden's term, Nance-Carroll argues that Milne “entwines” adult and child perceptions of time and memory through mixing modes such as the Todorovian fantastic or Northrop Frye's “seasons.” Drawing on a wealth of Milne scholarship and literary theory, particularly of narrative technique, Nance-Carroll shows how Milne's “combination of modes reflects the complexity of human reaction to change.” The delicate yet complex layers of narration imitate the archaeology of the self. Over repeated readings, Winnie-the-Pooh expresses nostalgic antinostalgia about childhood that affirms the simultaneous and continuous existence of all states of development, all modes.
In her essay “A 'Heap of Meaning': Objects, Aesthetics and the Posthuman Child in Janne Teller's Y.A. novel Nothing,” Annette Wannamaker maps the postmodern, post-human experiences of the child protagonists of Teller's Danish young adult...