Ethical Ecologies: What can Tove Jansson and Sven Nordqvist tell us about ethical relationships to matter?

Project Details


The question of post-humanist ethics has been under consideration in the field of philosophy, with scholars such as Donna Haraway and Jane Bennett considering how we can think of actions as ethical through a theory that de-emphasises individual human agency. However, though literature, especially genre literature like sci-fi and horror have been used in scholarly research on the post-human, the value of children’s literature in discussions on the ethics in post-humanism has been underrepresented. Children and literature for children tends to be underutilised in philosophical enquiry due to the focus of philosophy on an autonomous adult actor. However, I feel like philosophy as a discipline, and philosophy of the post-human in particular, could benefit from a perspective that centres children and children’s literature. In my project I address ethical relationships with matter from the perspective of children’s literature by Tove Jansson and Sven Nordqvist.
How we build ethical relationships with the environments we take part in is not only a matter of rational enquiry, but also of emotional connection. I argue that literature, and especially children’s literature often offers us a way of engaging with ideas that is not bound to empirical data or autonomous subjects, but is rather infused with emotion and embodied experiences. This gives children’s literature the freedom to engage with matter differently than scholarly research is able to, it can capture ways we engage with material emotionally, irrationally and unconsciously. By analysing this literature through academic enquiry I explore the possibility of children’s literature as an enrichment to the field of environmental ethics.
In conclusion; this project, by closely examining the way children’s literature engages with the material world, will shed more light on how we can successfully analyse the ethical relationships we already have to matter and the more than human.
Effective start/end date01/11/22 → …


  • post-humanism
  • new-materialism
  • environmental ethics
  • children's literature