By Trevor Spence
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.
Trevor Spence’s picturebook “What About the Trees, Arthur?” invites readers to re-evaluate their own “environmental privilege” and consider how seemingly innocuous actions can contribute to deforestation.
Trevor Spence recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a BFA in Acting and a minor in English. While at UF, Trevor performed lead roles in productions both at the School of Theatre and Dance and the Hippodrome Theatre downtown.