Selfish Giants and Child Redeemers: Refiguring Environmental Hope in Oscar Wilde’s and Clio Barnard’s <em>The Selfish Giant</em>

  • Kyo Maclear
Keywords: childhood, climate change, environment, child redeemer, Oscar Wilde, Clio Barnard

Abstract

In this paper, I explore how stories of lost and broken worlds have been tied to hopes about the redemptive possibilities of a new generation. I historicize and complicate the idea of children as environmental stewards of an imagined planetary future. I investigate the issue further by examining the particular figure of the child redeemer and our “investment in the image of the child as a sign of the future, as defence against loss of significance in the world” (Lebeau 179). Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant and Clio Barnard’s recent film adaptation of Wilde’s book will be the objects of my discussion. Barnard’s film, set in the post-industrial landscape of Bradford, England, offers child protagonists who unsettle the familiar fantasy of redemption and invite us to think past sentimental and nostalgic arguments for ecological preservation (premised on preserving an unjust world as it is). While it is important not to topple the myth of childhood innocence only to resurrect another myth of childhood agency, I am interested in these moments of refusal and how they point to the limits of a sentimental ecology.

Author Biography

Kyo Maclear

Kyo Maclear is a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar and a doctoral candidate at York University (Faculty of Education), where her area of research includes cultural responses to disaster from the nuclear age to climate change. In addition to her scholarly work, she is an acclaimed novelist, children’s author, and essayist. Her most recent book is the hybrid memoir Birds Art Life (Scribner 2017). To learn more about Kyo, visit kyomaclear.com and kyomaclearkids.com.

Published
2018-09-13
How to Cite
Maclear, K. (2018). Selfish Giants and Child Redeemers: Refiguring Environmental Hope in Oscar Wilde’s and Clio Barnard’s <em>The Selfish Giant</em>. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 10(1). Retrieved from http://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php?journal=yptc&page=article&op=view&path[]=371
Section
Articles