Toward an Ethics of Respons-ability: Exploring Dispossession and Renewal through Helen Ward and Marc Craste’s Multimodal Narratives

By Cristina Pérez Valverde.

Published by The International Journal of Diverse Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 9, 2016 $US5.00

Starting from Martha C. Nussbaum’s reflections on the empathic power of fiction and Serenella Iovino’s advocacy for a new humanistic approach in the practice of the humanities, this article articulates the notion of what I term “ethics of respons-ability” in literary reading. My proposal is exemplified through the analysis of “Varmints,” a picturebook written by children’s author Helen Ward and illustrated by Marc Craste. I analyze the manner in which dispossession and environmental destruction are depicted throughout the visual and verbal narratives, as well as the empathic devices employed to emotionally engage readers and place them in the position of the minority dispossessed. The concept of the “transmodern self” will be applied to the book, inasmuch as it engages with questions of alienation and final renewal through individual effort and willpower, following what has been labeled as transformative utopianism in children’s literature. The work chosen serves as a case study to illustrate the reading implications (and applications) of contemporary picturebooks dealing with current challenges of the Anthropocene, on account of the potential of children’s literature to raise awareness and potentially transform structures.

Keywords: Fiction, Ethics, Picturebooks, Otherness, Multimodal Narratives, Transmodernity

International Journal of Diverse Identities, Volume 16, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.25-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 9, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 696.366KB)).

Dr. Cristina Pérez Valverde

Senior Lecturer, Department of Language and Literature Didactics, Faculty of Education, University of Granada, Granada, Spain