Nordic Research Network on Human-Animal Relations i Children's Literature

Girl in front of a bookshelf reaching for books.

The Nordic Research Network on Human Animal Relations in Children’s Literature (HARCHIL) is a multidisciplinary network where researchers with an interest in narrative representations of human-animal relations aimed at children can meet for knowledge exchange and collaboration.

In children’s literature and young adult fiction, relations between people as well as between human and non-human animals are often depicted. Animals can be main characters just like humans, and throughout history animals and children have been connected to one another and considered to mirror human experience from the outside.
Research about children’s literature shows an interest in acknowledging meetings between human and non-human animals in the literary worlds of children and young adults. These relations are meaningful when trying to interpret literary texts.

HARCHIL gathers researchers and students from different disciplines with an interest in human animal relations within children’s literature, as well as in films, art, games, fan fiction, fan art and exhibitions aimed at children. The purpose of the network is to pool knowledge from different subjects and research areas and open up for new and collaborative research initiatives where the perspectives of different disciplines are taken into consideration.

HARCHIL Conference June 13 - 15 2023

The conference pays close attention to questions concerning interspecies relations, aiming to promote multidisciplinary research collaborations. 

The purpose is to gather researchers in a new Nordic network focusing on the study of human-animal relations in narrative forms, such as children’s literature and young adult fiction, film, art, games, fanfiction, fanart, and exhibitions.

Keynote speakers are Zoe Jaques (University of Cambridge), children’s literature scholar within posthumanism and ecocriticism, as well as Helena Pedersen (University of Gothenburg), researcher within critical animal studies and critical animal pedagogy.

Date and time: June 13-15 2023
Place: Linköping University, Campus Valla, Linköping



Read the abstracts here (PDF).


Call for papers

We welcome contributions concerning, but not limited to:

  • historical perspectives on human-animal relations
  • the image of human-animal relations from an animal rights perspective
  • depictions of interspecies communication
  • visual representations of human-animal relations
  • perspectives from posthumanism, ecocriticism, postcolonialism, intersectionality, critical animal studies and gender studies


The paper presentations can introduce research ideas as well as present ongoing or completed research, and can be given in English or Scandinavian languages. Please send abstracts of 250 words, indicating the preferred presentation format, before March 15th, to Notifications of acceptance will be sent out on March 31st. Participants are later invited to submit a scientific article to be published in a peer reviewed conference volume.

More about the research

A growing field of studies

Research on human animal relations is growing fast within several disciplines in the humanities and social sciences at the same time as new multidisciplinary fields include such research.

Over the last decades, research in children's literature and other cultural expressions aimed at children, has increasingly become intertwined with the expanding field of environmental humanities.

The increased interest in human-animal interaction denotes a reaction to the sharpened attention paid to the ongoing mass extinction of animals, insects, and plants. Within human animal studies, the focus is on how animals are represented and experienced, and on how human meaning making takes animals as a starting point. The significance of animals for human societies is central, both conceptually and from a physical/material perspective. Human existence has always been deeply intertwined with that of various animals.