Mr David Whitley


Mr David Whitley
Mr David Whitley

David Whitley has taught film, poetry and children’s literature at Cambridge University for over years. He was a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education before he retired, and continues to be research active as a Fellow of Homerton College. In his academic life he has contributed to thinking about the way the arts offer different forms of understanding and engagement with the natural world, including writing an influential book on Disney animation The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation (2008/2012). He has also collaborated on interdisciplinary projects, such as Pathways to Understanding the Changing Climate (2012-2016), concerned with environmental understanding and education more broadly. He has been passionately committed to the teaching and dissemination of poetry, both in his own teaching and through research, collaboration and writing. His contributions here have included co-editing Poetry and Childhood (2010), collaborating with the University of the West Indies on developing the teaching of Caribbean poetry, and working as Principal Investigator for the Poetry and Memory research project ( He has published many articles poetry education, children’s literature, and on major poets, such as Ted Hughes, William Wordsworth, Carol Ann Duffy and Derek Walcott. 

Research Interests

Environmental Education


Children’s Literature

Animated Film

Children’s Literature


Recent grants and collaborative research

2014-2017 ‘Poetry and Memory’ ( Principal Investigator for Leverhulme funded project. Research Associate: Debbie Pullinger.

2013-2016 ‘Pathways to Understanding the Changing Climate’. Co-investigator for AHRC funded project. Collaboration between Education Faculty and Department of Social Anthropology: PI Dr David Sneath; Research Associate (Education): Dr Elsa Lee.

2011-2015 Caribbean Poetry Project Funded by the Centre for Commonwealth Education. Collaboration with partners in University of West Indies, led by Morag Styles.

2010-2012 ‘The Teaching of Poetry: Schools to University’. British Academy funded. Principal Investigator. Research Assistant: Debbie Pullinger.

Teaching And Professional Interests

Children’s Literature; Medieval and Renaissance literature; Film (particularly animation); Ecocriticism; Poetry.

Links to online publications, articles or other work

Books (single authored):

2012 The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation: from Snow White to WALL•E.  Aldershot and Burlington, USA: Ashgate.

 2010 Styles, M., Joy, L., and Whitley, D. (eds.), Poetry and Childhood. Stoke on Trent:  Trentham.

Peer reviewed articles:

2019 ‘Poetry in Film: Performance, Identity and Crisis’. Caribbean Journal of Education. Special Issue: Poetry Beyond Borders. In press.

2016 Pullinger, D., & Whitley, D. ‘Beyond Measure: the Value of the Memorised Poem’. Changing English, 23(4). Invited article for special Issue: The Uses of Poetry.

2014 ‘Discovering Sense through Sound’, Writing in Education. 63. Summer. (Special issue on ‘Poetry, Memory and Performance’).

2013 ‘Learning with Disney: Children’s Animation and the Politics of Innocence’,  Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society. 5.2. December.

2013 ‘Why Should Ground Doves Fly? Caribbean Poetry, Sense of Place and the Global Imaginary’, Caribbean Journal of Education. 35.2. September.

2013 Pullinger, D. and Whitley, D. ‘Sounding Sense: the Place, Problems, and Potential of Performance in Poetry’, Changing English. 20.2. Spring.

2013 ‘Ted Hughes: Poetry, Education and Memory’, Ted Hughes Society Journal. 3. January.

Chapters in International Publications

2019 ‘Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s Frozen: Fantasy Cli-Fi’ in Axel Goodbody and Adeline Johns-Putra (eds.) Cli-Fi: A Companion. Oxford: Peter Lang.

2018 ‘Inner Animals: Nature in Ted Hughes’s Poems for Children’ in Katherine Wakely-Mulroney and Louise Joy (eds.) The Aesthetics of Children’s Poetry: A Study of Children’s Verse in English. London and New York: Routledge.

2018 ‘Hughes, Anthologising and Education’ in Terry Gifford (ed.) Ted Hughes in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2017 Rui Tang and David Whitley, ‘From Dogpower to Ratropolis: London in Animated Film’ in Pam Hirsch and Chris O’Rourke (eds.) London on Film. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

2014 ‘Animation, Realism, and the Genre of Nature’ in Alexa Weik von Mossner (ed.) Moving Environments: Affect, Emotion, Ecology, and Film. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

2014 ‘The Wild and the Cute: Disney Animation and Environmental Awareness’ in Alexander Howe and Wynn Yarborough (eds.) Kidding Around: the Child in Film and Media. New York: Bloomsbury

2013 ‘Ted Hughes and Farming’ in Mark Wormald, Neil Roberts and Terry Gifford (eds.), Ted Hughes: from Cambridge to Collected. London: Palgrave.

2013 ‘Poetry Place and Environment: the Scope of Caribbean Poetry’ in Beverley Bryan and Morag Styles (eds.) Teaching Caribbean Poetry. London and New York: Routledge.

2013 Velma Pollard and David Whitley, ‘Understanding and Teaching Walcott’, in Beverley Bryan and Morag Styles (eds.) Teaching Caribbean Poetry. London and New York: Routledge.

2013 ‘Confidence and Resilience in Poetry Teaching’ in Sue Dymoke, Andrew Lambirth and Anthony Wilson (eds.) Making Poetry Matter: International research on Poetry Pedagogy. London: Bloomsbury.

2013 “You think you own whatever land you land on”: Reconfiguring Narratives of Origin and Identity in Pocahontas and Princess Mononoke’, in Benjamin Lefebvre (ed) Textual Transformations in Children’s Literature. London: Routledge.

2012 ‘Adolescence and the Natural World in Young Adult Fiction’ in Maria Nikolajeva and Mary Hilton (eds.), The Emergent Adult: Adolescent Literature and Culture. Aldershot and Burlington, USA: Ashgate.

2010 ‘‘Imaginary gardens with real toads in them’: Animals in Children’s Poetry’ in Poetry and Childhood. Stoke on Trent and Sterling, USA: Trentham.

2009 ‘The Natural World in Disney Animation’, in Harding, J., Thiel, E. and Waller, A. (eds.) Deep into Nature: Ecology, Environment and Children’s Literature. Lichfield: Pied Piper.

2009 ‘Hiding Places of Power: the Child as Site of Resistance in William Wordsworth’s Poetry’, in Morag Styles and Evelyn Arizpe (eds) Acts of Reading: Teachers, Texts and Childhood. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham.