Roald Dahl and Philosophy

full name / name of organization: 
Jacob Held
contact email: 

See below, and attached, a call for abstracts for Philosophy and Roald Dahl. Continuing the trajectory of Dr. Seuss and Philosophy and hopefully duplicating its success, Rowman and Littlefield is giving me another bite at the children's literature and philosophy apple, this time focusing on Roald Dahl. I think this volume offers a lot of opportunities for some really fun and insightful philosophical work. So please consider contributing and forwarding this along to anyone you think might be interested.

Call for Abstracts

Philosophy and Roald Dahl

Rowman and Littlefield

Edited by Jacob M. Held

Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the lay reader. The length of final papers should be between 3500-5000 words.

Call for Abstracts:

I am soliciting abstracts for a new book, Philosophy and Roald Dahl (Rowman and Littlefield). This book will continue the trajectory set by Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You can Think! The goal is to use elements from children's literature that are near ubiquitous in our culture as well as philosophically rich in order to explicate and interrogate major thinkers and philosophical themes. In that regard, after Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl seems natural. Who hasn't heard of Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach, or Fantastic Mr. Fox? And can anyone doubt the depth of these works? I am seeking authors who can engage in philosophical exegesis and analysis while remaining playful and accessible. Ideally such philosophers would also be fans of Dahl's works. Below is a brief list of potential ideas, but I am open to any idea relating Dahl's children's literature to substantive philosophical themes. Although I will entertain any potential topic, priority will be given to those abstracts that address major figures and perennial philosophical themes. Feel free to submit multiple abstracts for consideration, and please forward this along to anyone else you think might be interested.

Possible themes and topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

Matilda, Crunchem Academy and the philosophy of education, or What's an education for?; Matilda and anti-intellectualism; Paternal responsibility, filial love, and what makes a family, Matilda and Miss Honey. The Witches and Retributivism, punishing with just des(s)erts; Witch Hunt, from Witches to Terrorists: Prejudice vs. Reasonable persecution; Marxism, exploitation and alienation, the case for the Oompa Loompas; Is Willy Wonka Bonkers? Critique of Normativity, Foucault and Madness; A mouse's life: Longevity and a happy, complete life in The Witches; Mr. Fox and Distributive Justice, stealing to live, and the redistribution of wealth; James and the Giant Peach, the BFG, and protecting the vulnerable; Pessimism and Optimism, life is pain vs. the hope for salvation; Matilda, James, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche; Eudaimonia, or What is happiness? Greed (adults) vs. flourishing (children); George's Marvelous Medicine and the ethics of world hunger; The Minpins and philosophy of religion, the devil, temptation, belief and faith; The philosophy of technology, from engineered food and candy, to pills, elevators, and space hotels; Environmental philosophy and ecosophy: giant peaches, marvelous medicine, and eliminating "threatening" creatures; Disgust, etiquette, beauty, and aesthetic taste: The Twits; Nietzsche's child, on play and the creation of values; Mice and Children, mind-body dualism, multiple realizability, Can a human child exist in a mouse's body? Speciesism and Anthropomorphism: Can animals count as much as people? Do animals only count because they are like people?; The role of Children's literature: Can you teach a child philosophy?; Existentialism: Camus/Sartre and the Giant Peach; Virtue vs. Vice: The lessons of Willy Wonka on gluttony, greed, pride, envy, and Charlie's humility; Willy Wonka and Karma; Theories of knowledge and the BFG; Animal rights and the status of non-humans: The Twits's cruelty.

Submission Guidelines:

1. Submission deadline for abstracts (300-500 words) and CVs: January 1st, 2013

You will be notified by January 15th regarding acceptance.

2. Submission deadline for first drafts of accepted papers: July 1st, 2013

3. Submission deadline for final drafts accepted papers: August 15th, 2013

Kindly submit abstracts and CVs as separate Word attachments by email to:

Jacob M. Held, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Internship Coordinator
Department of Philosophy and Religion
Harrin Hall 133
University of Central Arkansas
201 Donaghey Avenue
Conway, AR 72035-5003
"One repays a teacher badly, if one always remains a pupil only." - Nietzsche