The Child Mechanical and Adult Anxiety in Children’s Literature and Culture: “Wheels to the Rails!”
This article examines previous studies of anthropomorphized machinery in children’s literature and posits that paying particular attention to machinery specifically anthropomorphized as children yields insightful analytic results. Earlier studies have suggested anthropomorphized machinery softens large machines and renders them less threatening. The author argues that pedomorphized machines (machines given not just human, but specifically children’s characteristics) should be studied not for what new meanings they bring to the machines, but for new meanings they bring to the construct of childhood. Rather than humanizing the machine, pedomorphic machinery blends childhood innocence and traits of James Kincaid’s “Child Botanical” with ideas of power, mobility, and freedom. These images reveal a deep unease with the coupling of childhood and technology.