Oh help! Oh no! The international politics of The Gruffalo: Children’s picturebooks and world politics

Jarvis, Lee ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4149-7135 and Robinson, Nick (2024) Oh help! Oh no! The international politics of The Gruffalo: Children’s picturebooks and world politics. Review of International Studies, 50 (1). pp. 58-78. ISSN 0260-2105

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The article explores the complicity of children's picturebooks in the construction and critique of world politics. Focusing on The Gruffalo, it argues that this spectacularly successful book: (1) stories the international as a pessimistic, anarchical world populated by self-interested, survival-seekers; (2) disrupts this reading and its assumptions through evocation of the social production of threat; and, (3) provides a more fundamental decolonial critique of the international through parochial privileging of its protagonist's journey through a 'deep dark wood'. In doing this, we argue, the book vividly demonstrates the world's susceptibility to multiple incompatible readings, while rendering visible the assumptions, framing, and occlusions of competing understandings of the international. As such, it theorises both world politics and knowledge thereof as contingent and unstable. In making this argument, three contributions are made. First, empirically, we expand research on popular culture and world politics through investigating a surprisingly neglected example of the former. Second, theoretically, we demonstrate the work such texts perform in (re)creating and (de)stabilising (knowledge of) global politics. Third, we offer a composite methodological framework for future research into the context, content, and framing of complex texts like The Gruffalo.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Supplementary material: The supplementary material for this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210523000098. Video Abstract: To view the online video abstract, please visit: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210523000098
Uncontrolled Keywords: popular culture,global politics,children's literature,international relations theory,the gruffalo,global politics,children's literature,popular culture,political science and international relations,sociology and political science ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3320
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Critical Global Politics
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Political, Social and International Studies
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2023 17:31
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:15
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/91305
DOI: 10.1017/S0260210523000098


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