In this video abstract, authors Lee Jarvis and Nick Robinson discuss the key points from their new Review of International Studies (RIS) article - Oh help! Oh no! The international politics of The Gruffalo: Children’s picturebooks and world politics.
The article explores the complicity of children’s picturebooks in the construction and critique of world politics. Using The Gruffalo, they argue that 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.
Want to know more? You can read their full article at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210523000098
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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.