Associate Professor, English
Michelle Superle (PhD, University of Newcastle, UK) is an Associate Professor in the English department, where she teaches composition, creative writing, and literature courses. Superle is fascinated by narratives about food generally and agriculture specifically—not simply because they’re interesting, but also for their potential to influence readers.
In 2019 she received a SSHRC Insight Development grant to fund the project “From Rural Idyll to Food Sovereignty: Assessing the Impact of Agricultural Portrayals in Children's Picture Books”. This investigation seeks to answer the question, can picture books help children understand food systems and sovereignty?
Superle explores this question through two sub-questions.
(1) How have agricultural activities been represented in the images and text of children’s picture books from various cultural traditions and time periods?
This exploration will culminate in a scholarly monograph, Picturing Agriculture.
(2) How effective are picture books about agriculture as tools to anchor a rights-based, participatory educational program that aims not only to help children understand key food security concepts, but also to inspire them to participate in local food systems—or better still, food sovereignty initiatives?
This exploration is addressed in the Dig for Your Rights! pilot program that Superle has developed in collaboration with Dr. Lenore Newman (FAI Director) and Dr. Lesley Jessiman (Associate Professor, Department of Psychology). Dig for Your Rights! uses the educational potential of picture books in a rights-based literary program to engage children in problem-based learning around food security and sovereignty. The pilot program will investigate how effective visual and textual representations of agriculture in picture books are for helping children in elementary schools understand and participate in their local food systems.
Superle, Michelle. “A Grand Cause: Representations of Children’s Contributions to Regenerative Agriculture.” In Intergenerational Solidarity in Children’s Literature. Eds. Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak and Zoe Jacques. University of Mississippi Press, 2021.
Superle, Michelle. “Mother’s Milk: The Politics of Food in South Asian Children’s Novels.” In Journal of Children’s Literature (India). July 2008.