Continuums of fantasy, reality, and kinship: an ecopsychological reading of Madeleine L’Engle’s children’s and adolescent fiction

Lawrence, Heidi A. (2022) Continuums of fantasy, reality, and kinship: an ecopsychological reading of Madeleine L’Engle’s children’s and adolescent fiction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines a selection of Madeleine L’Engle’s children’s and adolescent literature series, using a theoretical lens derived from ecopsychology and its praxis, ecotherapy. The three series I draw from are the Austin family series, the Time series, and the O’Keefe family series. All are situated in L’Engle’s fantastic universe, bringing fantasy and reality together in her work across a continuum ranging from the highly realistic events of her Austin family novels to the highly fantastic events of her Time series. However, very little scholarship addresses the interconnectedness of the three sets of novels. As a result, it seems very important to address some of the possibilities inherent in this neglected overlap between them. In addition to observing that there is movement between the fantastic and the realistic in these novels, L’Engle is adept at building a deep relationship between her human characters and the nonhuman aspects of their world(s), including both the living, organic creatures and the non-living, inorganic features of the landscapes she develops. These relationships bring this range of novels firmly onto ecopsychologist Andy Fisher’s human-nonhuman kinship continuum (Fisher, 2013). Combined with the relationships between the fantastic and the realistic in L’Engle’s novels, this second continuum allows the audience to anticipate how the experience of reading these novels might lead to reimagining the attachments that can be formed between human and nonhuman outside of the book, and the ways in which those attachments might be mutually beneficial and psychologically, and even physically, healing. In all three series of novels, it is often the case that the nonhuman is important in helping humans resolve problems they face. This thesis will use ecopsychology and ecotherapy to closely examine the relationships L’Engle develops for her characters along the human-nonhuman kinship continuum. This will be accomplished by looking at pairs of novels from the fantastic and the realistic series, as well as at single novels which stand out as slightly different from the most prominent genre in a given series. In this way, the thesis also shows L’Engle’s movement back and forth along the fantasy/reality continuum and demonstrates the integration of the three series with each other. Importantly, through examining these relationships and this movement along continuums in these novels, the thesis demonstrates how ecopsychology and ecotherapy provide a strong and important critical lens through which to read children’s and adolescent novels.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Maslen, Dr. Robert and Farrell, Dr. Maureen
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82805
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2022 15:10
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2022 15:13
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82805

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