Date of Completion


Embargo Period



agrarianism, children's literature, american literature, agriculture

Major Advisor

Katharine Capshaw

Associate Advisor

Margaret Higonnet

Associate Advisor

William H. Major

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


New Agrarianism and American Children’s Literature

Emily Cardinali Cormier, Ph.D.

University of Connecticut, 2015

This dissertation explores the ways in which New Agrarian theory opens new interpretations of the child’s farm novel in both American Literature and Children’s Literature. It examines both large-scale relationships—such as between culture and agriculture—as well as intimate relationships—between members of a family and the land upon which they live—contending that there is a direct relationship between the health of a community and the health of its soil. The farm novel in Children’s Literature is a rich site of inquiry for New Agrarians because it works on both scales: intimately depicting the workings of farm families, while fitting such families into larger national narratives about rural community.

This dissertation intervenes productively in Ecocriticism and New Agrarianism, where works for children have often been slighted by scholarship, as well as in Children’s Literature, where ecocriticism has excluded the working farm child, and the relationship between farm life and nostalgia has yet to be critically addressed. This project also intervenes in New Agrarianism by questioning the assumptions of white privilege and heteropatriarchy upon which some of this theory is built. Additionally, this work adds a necessary perspective to both African-American Children’s Literature (which has often focused on the urban) and Black Agrarianism (which has not yet considered works for children). Fundamental to this analysis is considering to what extent nostalgia or an attachment to the Pastoral has shaped farm novels for children.