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Final Thesis - AHMADIZADEH.pdf (4.37 MB)

In search of the happy farm

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posted on 2024-06-07, 02:48 authored by Anita Ahmadizadeh

This research has examined the way non-human animals are narrated and portrayed in contemporary Australian children’s literature. It incorporates a distinct emphasis, which emerged during the research process, on how the human-animal connection became a significant point of representation for non-human animals in the children’s literature selected for analysis. Centred on the Children’s Book Council of Australia ‘Book of The Year: Early Childhood’, sixty books were selected for this study spanning 2001-2021. The selected books include the winning book and the two ‘runner up’ awards from each year.
The research literature focuses on contemporary human-animal relationships and is theoretically centred in the overarching field of Animal Studies. As this thesis outlines, Animal Studies has been chosen as an umbrella term, and its methodologies and positions – such as Human-Animal studies and Critical Animal Studies – are further contextualised during the thesis. An arts-based multi-modal analysis approach has been taken which consisted of two parts, an initial reading of each book which resulted in the early emergence of the key findings, followed by a more detailed analysis of each book.
Of the sixty books surveyed, thirty-six were about animals, fifty-four included animals in the story, and forty-six had images of animals on the cover. The stories and covers remained consistent in this sub-set with a close connection to the characters and the storyline. An initial survey was undertaken to gain an overview of the role non-human animals were taking in the books and identify patterns of narration. This was achieved by reading each book individually and answering a series of questions. An arts-based multi-modal analysis approach has been taken which consisted of two parts, an initial reading of each book which resulted in the early emergence of the key findings, and followed by a more detailed analysis of each book.
The vast majority of books also included humans and non-human animals together rather than only animals or only humans. In addition to confirming the significant presence of non-human animals, four key categories of storytelling have been established which are, the farm (farmed animals), the natural environment (wild animals), the family pet (domestic animals in the family home), and anthropomorphic animals (the human-animal hybrid).
The findings of the research are presented in six core chapters and each chapter reviews a key area drawn from the research.
The findings of this research demonstrate that despite widespread social and cultural changes in human-animal relationships, the tropes and thematic content in children’s literature remain profoundly unchanged and aligned to traditionally held values. As detailed in this research, these values are not always aligned to contemporary ways of thinking about non-human-animals and human animal relationships.

History

Sub-type

  • Master's Thesis

Pagination

vii, 191 pages

Department/School

School of Creative arts and Media

Publisher

University of Tasmania

Event title

Graduation

Date of Event (Start Date)

2023-12-15

Rights statement

Copyright 2023 the author

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