Desire, Interspecies Love, and Becoming-Animal: Reading “The Overstory” in Social Studies Education


  • Peter Nelson University of British Columbia
  • B. Scott Durham Kent State University


This article springs from our readings and re-readings of The Overstory (Powers, 2018), a text that moved us and changed us. In this article, we conceive of The Overstory as an affective aesthetic text, agentic in its capacity to jolt readers awake and precipitate ontoepistemological swerves in new and unexpected directions. We build from visions of textual engagements that bring a reader to life, disclosing new pathways and possibilities for how to be, feel, and know one another in the world, a world replete with ethical responsibilities, matterings, and entanglements that stretch far beyond the human. Disassembling The Overstory, we string together particular threads with theory and our own engagements with the novel, offering speculative curriculum/classroom futures—visions of what agentic texts like The Overstory can quite literally do (open up, bind together, create, shape, and so on) in social studies education.