- Senior Lecturer - Manchester Metropolitan University
I am a member of the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies, a group that develops participatory and interdisciplinary projects with young people as co-researchers.
Young People, Literature and Climate Change
How do young people orient themselves towards climate change and debates on climate change responses? With Ben Bowman, I am running an interdisciplinary study that investigates how literature and politics enrich one another, leading to new understandings of the relation of young people to the climate crisis. The study analyses the role of creative fiction in the development of political subjectivities and attitudinal transformation. Building on the question of young people’s orientation towards the crisis, we propose imaginative fiction as a resource to transform political discourse around youth and the climate crisis. The first phase of the study is supported by the Political Studies Association and the second phase is funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation.
Recently, I have been working with texts that imagine climate change futures for children and young people, delivering two academic papers on the topics:
- Earth Heroes? Youth “Agency” and Intergenerational Narratives of Climate Change
- (Un)natural Ecologies: Weird Worlding, Precarity and Care in Children’s and Young Adult Fiction
This work feeds into my current monograph project.: The Dark Matter of Children’s Fantastika Literature: Speculative Entanglements. This book brings perspectives from science and ecology into dialogue with children’s fiction written. The core concept that drives the study is ‘entanglement’, which originates in twentieth-century quantum physics but has been applied to cultural critique by Karen Barad (2007).
The study surveys a wide-raging scope of texts, covering the gothic, fantasy and other forms of speculative fiction. Likewise, the study in its more theoretical dimensions synthesizes perspectives from ecology, physics, anthropology, biology and literary studies. Children’s Fantastika, the book demonstrates, is exemplary in its ethical engagement as it negotiates possibilities for future coexistence and political action. Thus, Speculative Entanglements examines the storied matter of children’s Fantastika as ground from which we might to begin to imagine an as-yet-unrealised future that addresses the problems attendant upon our present. The book will be published with Bloomsbury.
Games and the Climate Crisis
I am also interested in the ways in which games negotiate the climate crisis.
You can read my paper ‘On the Possibility of Terrestrial Games’, written for the 2021 British Society for Science and Literature conference. I am part of an ‘EcoWeird Worlds’ project with academics from the United States and Canada, which investigates the affordances of games for re-shaping thought on the environment.