By Morgan Spraker
LIT4331: Envisioning Environmental Disaster in Children’s Literature (Spring 2021)
Instructor: Brianna Anderson
Throughout the semester, students carefully analyzed how the relationship between images and text in comics, illustrated novels, picturebooks, and other media allows creators to convey environmental messages to young readers. We devoted particular attention to two central questions: 1) how can the structural components of these imagetexts (such as color, the gutter, and panel size) represent abstract and frightening environmental issues in a way that young children can comprehend? and 2) how can imagetexts and their paratexts empower children to participate in environmental activism? For this Creative Imagetext Project assignment, students built on the imagetext principles we examined in class by creating their own comic, picturebook, or zine about the environmental issue of their choice. All the imagetexts feature informational paratexts, such as lists of additional resources and suggestions for ways that readers can participate in environmental activism. Significantly, the students each created their imagetexts digitally using free software. Their creations demonstrate that anyone can use comics and picturebooks to advocate for the issues that they care about.
Morgan Spraker’s ecofeminist visual narrative “Cassandra” portrays one teenage girl’s relationship with the ocean in order to explore the links between environmental degradation and the patriarchal oppression of women.
Morgan Spraker is a third-year English and Sustainability Studies double major, with a minor in Spanish, from Port Orange, Florida. Growing up fifteen minutes from the ocean provided her with a love and appreciation for the natural world. She has written non-fiction articles for Environment Florida and Her Campus UFL, and her short fiction has been featured in Daily Science Fiction, Teen Ink, and Fine Print Magazine. After graduation, Morgan hopes to build a career writing environmental stories for teens and advocating for climate justice. When she isn’t writing, she is most likely waitressing at a breakfast diner, spending time with friends and family, or watching sitcoms. You can find Morgan on Twitter, @morgan_spraker.