The Wild Child: Posthumanism and the Child–Animal Figure

  • Kerry Mallan
Part of the Critical Approaches to Children's Literature book series (CRACL)


This chapter draws on the propositions of posthumanism to examine how children’s fiction celebrates and problematises wildness. By focussing on the hybrid figure of the child–animal (the ‘wild child’), I interpret this complex figure as posthuman, arguing that it metaphorically embodies the fears and anxieties contemporary Western societies harbour for the Other. Postioned in a borderland, the wild child marks a productive tension between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism: its free, unencumbered state reflects ecocentrism acceptance to all forms of life, but runs counter to anthropocentricism’s view of human superiority and prejudices. The focus texts for the discussion are The Wild Boy by Mordecai Gerstein (1998), The Savage by David Almond (2008), and I Was a Rat! by Philip Pullman (1999).

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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