front cover of Anticipating Sin in Medieval Society
Anticipating Sin in Medieval Society
Childhood, Sexuality, and Violence in the Early Penitentials
Erin V. Abraham
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
Composed between the sixth and ninth centuries, penitentials were little books of penance that address a wide range of human fallibility. But they are far more than mere registers of sin and penance: rather, by revealing the multiple contexts in which their authors anticipated various sins, they reveal much about the ways those authors and, presumably, their audiences understood a variety of social phenomena. Offering new, more accurate translations of the penitentials than what has previously been available, this book delves into the potentialities addressed in these manuals for clues about less tangible aspects of early medieval history, including the innocence and vulnerability of young children and the relationship between speech and culpability; the links between puberty, autonomy, and moral accountability; early medieval efforts to regulate sexual relationships; and much more.

front cover of Bay Boy
Bay Boy
Stories of a Childhood in Point Clear, Alabama
Watt Key, Illustrations by Murray Key
University of Alabama Press, 2019
A charming, humorous, and colorful coming-of-age memoir

Bay Boy is a collection of essays by award-winning young adult author Watt Key, chronicling his boyhood in Point Clear, Alabama. During his childhood, Point Clear was not the tony enclave of today with  its spas, art galleries, and multimillion dollar waterfront properties.  Rather, it was a sleepy resort community, practically deserted in the winter, with a considerable population of working-class residents.
As Key notes in his introduction, “Life in Point Clear is really about being  outside. . . . I have never found a place so perfectly suited to exercise  a young boy’s imagination.” Key and his brother filled their days  collecting driftwood to make forts, scooting around the bay in a sturdy  Stauter boat, and making art and writing stories when it rained.

In a tone that is simple and direct, punctuated by truly hilarious  moments. Key writes about Gulf Coast traditions including Mardi Gras, shrimping, fishing, dove hunting, jubilees, camping out, and bracing for hurricanes. These stories are full of colorful characters— Nasty Bill Dickson, a curmudgeonly tow-truck driver; I’llNeeda, a middle-aged homeless woman encamped in a shack across the road; and the Ghost of Zundel’s Wharf, “the restless soul of a long-dead construction worker.” The stories are illustrated by charming and evocative artwork by the author’s brother Murray Key.

logo for Harvard University Press
Becoming Byzantine
Children and Childhood in Byzantium
Arietta Papaconstantinou
Harvard University Press, 2009
Despite increased interest over the last fifty years in childhood in Byzantium, the bibliography on this topic remains rather short and generalized. Becoming Byzantine: Children and Childhood in Byzantium presents detailed information about children's lives and provides a basis for further study. This collection of eight articles drawn from a May 2006 Dumbarton Oaks symposium covers matters relevant to daily life such as the definition of children in Byzantine law, procreation, death, breastfeeding patterns, and material culture. Religious and political perspectives are also used to examine Byzantine views of the ideal child, and the abuse of children in monasteries. Many of these articles present the first comprehensive accounts of specific aspects of childhood in Byzantium.

front cover of Camp Life Is Paradise for Freddy
Camp Life Is Paradise for Freddy
A Childhood in the Dutch East Indies, 1933–1946
Fred Lanzing
Ohio University Press, 2017

“Children see and hear what is there; adults see and hear what they are expected to and mainly remember what they think they ought to remember,” David Lowenthal wrote in The Past Is a Foreign Country. It is on this fraught foundation that Fred Lanzing builds this memoir of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp for Dutch colonialists in the East Indies during the World War II.

When published in the Netherlands in 2007, the book triggered controversy, if not vitriol, for Lanzing’s assertion that his time in the camp was not the compendium of horrors commonly associated with the Dutch internment experience. Despite the angry reception, Lanzing’s account corresponds more closely with the scant historical record than do most camp memoirs. In this way, Lanzing’s work is a substantial addition to ongoing discussions of the politics of memory and the powerful—if contentious—contributions that subjective accounts make to historiography and to the legacies of the past.

Lanzing relates an aspect of the war in the Pacific seldom discussed outside the Netherlands and, by focusing on the experiences of ordinary people, expands our understanding of World War II in general. His compact, beautifully detailed account will be accessible to undergraduate students and a general readership and, together with the introduction by William H. Frederick, is a significant contribution to literature on World War II, the Dutch colonial experience, the history of childhood, and Southeast Asian history.


front cover of Can This Marriage Be Saved?
Can This Marriage Be Saved?
A Memoir
Nancy McCabe
University of Missouri Press, 2020
In this warm, deeply-personal, and often humorous book, Nancy McCabe re-examines and gains new understanding of her early life and her ill-advised marriage. Borrowing from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” how-to essays and before-and-after weight loss ads, a curriculum guide, Bible study notes, an obsession with Tom Swiftie jokes, and women’s magazine columns and quizzes that oversimplified women’s lives and choices, McCabe examines the many influences that led to her youthful marriage—and out of it, into finally taking control of her life.

front cover of Child Soldiers in the Western Imagination
Child Soldiers in the Western Imagination
From Patriots to Victims
Rosen, David M
Rutgers University Press, 2015
When we hear the term “child soldiers,” most Americans imagine innocent victims roped into bloody conflicts in distant war-torn lands like Sudan and Sierra Leone. Yet our own history is filled with examples of children involved in warfare—from adolescent prisoner of war Andrew Jackson to Civil War drummer boys—who were once viewed as symbols of national pride rather than signs of human degradation.
In this daring new study, anthropologist David M. Rosen investigates why our cultural perception of the child soldier has changed so radically over the past two centuries. Child Soldiers in the Western Imagination reveals how Western conceptions of childhood as a uniquely vulnerable and innocent state are a relatively recent invention. Furthermore, Rosen offers an illuminating history of how human rights organizations drew upon these sentiments to create the very term “child soldier,” which they presented as the embodiment of war’s human cost.
Filled with shocking historical accounts and facts—and revealing the reasons why one cannot spell “infantry” without “infant”—Child Soldiers in the Western Imagination seeks to shake us out of our pervasive historical amnesia. It challenges us to stop looking at child soldiers through a biased set of idealized assumptions about childhood, so that we can better address the realities of adolescents and pre-adolescents in combat. Presenting informative facts while examining fictional representations of the child soldier in popular culture, this book is both eye-opening and thought-provoking.   

front cover of Childhood
Nathalie Sarraute
University of Chicago Press, 2013
As one of the leading proponents of the nouveau roman, Nathalie Sarraute is often remembered for her novels, including The Golden Fruits, which earned her the Prix international de litterature in 1964. But her carefully crafted and evocative memoir Childhood may in fact be Sarraute’s most accessible and emotionally open work. Written when the author was eighty-three years old, but dealing with only the first twelve years of her life, Childhood is constructed as a dialogue between Sarraute and her memory. Sarraute gently interrogates her interlocutor in search of her own intentions, more precise accuracy, and indeed, the truth. Her relationships with her mother in Russia and her stepmother in Paris are especially heartbreaking: long-gone actions are prodded and poked at by Sarraute until they yield some semblance of fact, imbuing these maternalistic interactions with new, deeper meaning. Each vignette is bristling with detail and shows the power of memory through prose by turns funny, sad, and poetic. Capturing the ambience of Paris and Russia in the earliest part of the twentieth century, while never giving up the lyrical style of Sarraute’s novels, this book has much to offer both memoir enthusiasts and fiction lovers.


front cover of Childhood and Cinema
Childhood and Cinema
Vicky Lebeau
Reaktion Books, 2008
From Lolita to The Sixth Sense, the figure of the child in cinematic works has been a contested site of symbolism and controversy. Childhood and Cinema examines how the child in film has ultimately been used to embody the anxieties and aspirations of modern life.
Vicky Lebeau investigates how films use children to probe such themes as sexuality, death, imagination, the terrors of childhood, and hope. The book ranges over the whole history of Western cinema, from the Lumière brothers’ 1895 Feeding the Baby to Walt Disney’s animation classics to Truffaut’s L’enfant sauvage and recent works such as Capturing the Friedmans and Kids. The figure of the child in film, Lebeau argues, is fundamentally ambivalent—always hovering on the edge between hope and despair, vulnerability and violence, or pleasure and trauma—and it ultimately offers a unique way of thinking about the significance of cinema itself.
By turns engaging, thought-provoking, and informative, Childhood and the Cinema challenges us to reconsider the child figure as a conduit for critical reflection on what it means to be human.

front cover of Childhood and Nineteenth-Century American Theatre
Childhood and Nineteenth-Century American Theatre
The Work of the Marsh Troupe of Juvenile Actors
Shauna Vey
Southern Illinois University Press, 2015
From 1855 until 1863, the Marsh Troupe of Juvenile Comedians, a professional acting company of approximately thirty children, entertained audiences with their nuanced performances of adult roles on stages around the globe. In Childhood and Nineteenth-Century American Theatre: The Work of the Marsh Troupe of Juvenile Actors, author Shauna Vey provides an insightful account not only of this unique antebellum stage troupe but also of contemporary theatre practices and the larger American culture, including shifts in the definition of childhood itself.
Looking at the daily work lives of five members of the Marsh Troupe—the father and manager, Robert Marsh, and four child performers, Mary Marsh, Alfred Stewart, Louise Arnot, and Georgie Marsh—Vey reveals the realities of the antebellum theatre and American society: the rise of the nineteenth-century impresario; the emerging societal constructions of girlhood and goodness; the realities of child labor;  the decline of the apprenticeship model of actor training; shifts in gender roles and the status of working women; and changes in the economic models of theatre production, including the development of the stock company system.   
Both a microhistory of a professional theatre company and its juvenile players in the decade before the Civil War and a larger narrative of cultural change in the United States, Childhood and Nineteenth-Century American Theatre sheds light on how childhood was idealized both on and off the stage, how the role of the child in society shifted in the nineteenth century, and the ways economic value and sentiment contributed to how children were viewed.

front cover of Childhood and Other Neighborhoods
Childhood and Other Neighborhoods
Stuart Dybek
University of Chicago Press, 2003
In Stuart Dybek's Chicago, wonder lurks in unexpected places—in garbage-strewn alleys, gloomy basement apartments, abandoned rooms at the top of rickety stairs periodically rumbled by passing el trains. Transformed through the wide eyes of Dybek's adolescent heroes, these grimy urban backwaters become exotic landscapes of fear-filled possibility, of dreams not yet turned to nightmares. Chronicling what happens when Old World faith meets the dark side of the American dream, Dybek's poignant stories of coming of age in Chicago alternately appall, amaze, and just simply entertain.

front cover of Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village
Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village
Shaping Hierarchy and Desire
Chapin, Bambi L
Rutgers University Press, 2014
Like toddlers all over the world, Sri Lankan children go through a period that in the U.S. is referred to as the “terrible twos.” Yet once they reach elementary school age, they appear uncannily passive, compliant, and undemanding compared to their Western counterparts. Clearly, these children have undergone some process of socialization, but what?

Over ten years ago, anthropologist Bambi Chapin traveled to a rural Sri Lankan village to begin answering this question, getting to know the toddlers in the village, then returning to track their development over the course of the following decade. Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village offers an intimate look at how these children, raised on the tenets of Buddhism, are trained to set aside selfish desires for the good of their families and the community. Chapin reveals how this cultural conditioning is carried out through small everyday practices, including eating and sleeping arrangements, yet she also explores how the village’s attitudes and customs continue to evolve with each new generation.

Combining penetrating psychological insights with a rigorous observation of larger social structures, Chapin enables us to see the world through the eyes of Sri Lankan children searching for a place within their families and communities. Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village offers a fresh, global perspective on child development and the transmission of culture.    

front cover of Childhood in the Promised Land
Childhood in the Promised Land
Working-Class Movements and the Colonies de Vacances in France, 1880–1960
Laura Lee Downs
Duke University Press, 2002
Childhood in the Promised Land is the first history of France's colonies de vacances, a vast network of summer camps created for working-class children. The colonies originated as a late-nineteenth-century charitable institution, providing rural retreats intended to restore the fragile health of poor urban children. Participation grew steadily throughout the first half of the twentieth century, "trickling up" by the late 1940s to embrace middle-class youth as well.

At the heart of the study lie the municipal colonies de vacances, organized by the working-class cities of the Paris red belt. Located in remote villages or along the more inexpensive stretches of the Atlantic coast, the municipal colonies gathered their young clientele into variously structured "child villages," within which they were to live out particular, ideal visions of the collective life of children throughout the long summer holiday. Focusing on the creation of and participation in these summer camps, Laura Lee Downs presents surprising insights into the location and significance of childhood in French working-class cities and, ultimately, within the development of modern France.

Drawing on a rich array of historical sources, including dossiers and records of municipal colonies discovered in remote town halls of the Paris suburbs, newspaper accounts, and interviews with adults who participated in the colonies as children, Downs reveals how diverse groups—including local Socialist and Communist leaders and Catholic seminarians—seized the opportunity to shape the minds and bodies of working-class youth. Childhood in the Promised Land shows how, in creating the summer camps, these various groups combined pedagogical theories, religious convictions, political ideologies, and theories about the relationship between the countryside and children's physical and cognitive development. At the same time, the book sheds light on classic questions of social control, highlighting the active role of the children in shaping their experiences.


front cover of Children and Childhood in American Religions
Children and Childhood in American Religions
Browning, Don S
Rutgers University Press, 2009
Whether First Communion or bar mitzvah, religious traditions play a central role in the lives of many American children. In this collection of essays, leading scholars reveal for the first time how various religions interpret, reconstruct, and mediate their traditions to help guide children and their parents in navigating the opportunities and challenges of American life. The book examines ten religions, among other topics:
  • How the Catholic Church confronts the tension between its teachings about children and actual practic
  • The Oglala Lakota's struggle to preserve their spiritual tradition
  • The impact of modernity on Hinduism

Only by discussing the unique challenges faced by all religions, and their followers, can we take the first step toward a greater understanding for all of us.


front cover of Children and Childhood in World Religions
Children and Childhood in World Religions
Primary Sources and Texts
Browning, Don S
Rutgers University Press, 2009
While children figure prominently in religious traditions, few books have directly explored the complex relationships between children and religion. This is the first book to examine the theme of children in major religions of the world.

Each of six chapters, edited by world-class scholars, focuses on one religious tradition and includes an introduction and a selection of primary texts ranging from legal to liturgical and from the ancient to the contemporary. Through both the scholarly introductions and the primary sources, this comprehensive volume addresses a range of topics, from the sanctity of birth to a child's relationship to evil, showing that issues regarding children are central to understanding world religions and raising significant questions about our own conceptions of children today.


logo for Harvard University Press
Children as Treasures
Childhood and the Middle Class in Early Twentieth Century Japan
Mark Jones
Harvard University Press, 2010

Mark Jones examines the making of a new child’s world in Japan between 1890 and 1930 and focuses on the institutions, groups, and individuals that reshaped both the idea of childhood and the daily life of children. Family reformers, scientific child experts, magazine editors, well-educated mothers, and other prewar urban elites constructed a model of childhood—having one’s own room, devoting time to homework, reading children’s literature, playing with toys—that ultimately became the norm for young Japanese in subsequent decades.

This book also places the story of modern childhood within a broader social context—the emergence of a middle class in early twentieth century Japan. The ideal of making the child into a “superior student” (yutosei) appealed to the family seeking upward mobility and to the nation-state that needed disciplined, educated workers able to further Japan’s capitalist and imperialist growth. This view of the middle class as a child-centered, educationally obsessed, socially aspiring stratum survived World War II and prospered into the years beyond.


front cover of Children of Fate
Children of Fate
Childhood, Class, and the State in Chile, 1850–1930
Nara B. Milanich
Duke University Press, 2009
In modern Latin America, profound social inequalities have persisted despite the promise of equality. Nara B. Milanich argues that social and legal practices surrounding family and kinship have helped produce and sustain these inequalities. Tracing families both elite and plebeian in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Chile, she focuses on a group largely invisible in Latin American historiography: children. The concept of family constituted a crucial dimension of an individual’s identity and status, but also denoted a privileged set of gendered and generational dependencies that not all people could claim. Children of Fate explores such themes as paternity, illegitimacy, kinship, and child circulation over the course of eighty years of Chile’s modern history to illuminate the ways family practices and ideologies powerfully shaped the lives of individuals as well as broader social structures.

Milanich pays particular attention to family law, arguing that liberal legal reforms wrought in the 1850s, which left the paternity of illegitimate children purposely unrecorded, reinforced not only patriarchal power but also hierarchies of class. Through vivid stories culled from judicial and notarial sources and from a cache of documents found in the closet of a Santiago orphanage, she reveals how law and bureaucracy helped create an anonymous underclass bereft of kin entitlements, dependent on the charity of others, and marginalized from public bureaucracies. Milanich also challenges the recent scholarly emphasis on state formation by highlighting the enduring importance of private, informal, and extralegal relations of power within and across households. Children of Fate demonstrates how the study of children can illuminate the social organization of gender and class, liberalism, law, and state power in modern Latin America.


front cover of Coining for Capital
Coining for Capital
Movies, Marketing, and the Transformation of Childhood
Kapur, Jyotsna
Rutgers University Press, 2005
"This book is a welcome addition to the literature on children and the media, and a most stimulating application of social theory to questions of the child in contemporary film and consumer culture."—Ellen Seiter, author of The Internet Playground: Children's Access, Entertainment and Mis-Education

Since the 1980s, a peculiar paradox has evolved in American film. Hollywood’s children have grown up, and the adults are looking and behaving more and more like children. In popular films such as Harry Potter, Toy Story, Pocahantas, Home Alone, and Jumanji, it is the children who are clever, savvy, and self-sufficient while the adults are often portrayed as bumbling and ineffective.

Is this transformation of children into "little adults" an invention of Hollywood or a product of changing cultural definitions more broadly? In Coining for Capital, Jyostna Kapur explores the evolution of the concept of childhood from its portrayal in the eighteenth century as a pure, innocent, and idyllic state—the opposite of adulthood—to its expression today as a mere variation of adulthood, complete with characteristics of sophistication, temptation, and corruption. Kapur argues that this change in definition is not a media effect, but rather a structural feature of a deeply consumer-driven society.

Providing a new and timely perspective on the current widespread alarm over the loss of childhood, Coining for Capital concludes that our present moment is in fact one of hope and despair. As children are fortunately shedding false definitions of proscribed innocence both in film and in life, they must now also learn to navigate a deeply inequitable, antagonistic, and consumer-driven society of which they are both a part and a target.


front cover of The Commodification of Childhood
The Commodification of Childhood
The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer
Daniel Thomas Cook
Duke University Press, 2004
In this revealing social history, Daniel Thomas Cook explores the roots of children’s consumer culture—and the commodification of childhood itself—by looking at the rise, growth, and segmentation of the children’s clothing industry. Cook describes how in the early twentieth century merchants, manufacturers, and advertisers of children’s clothing began to aim commercial messages at the child rather than the mother. Cook situates this fundamental shift in perspective within the broader transformation of the child into a legitimate, individualized, self-contained consumer.

The Commodification of Childhood begins with the publication of the children’s wear industry’s first trade journal, The Infants’ Department, in 1917 and extends into the early 1960s, by which time the changes Cook chronicles were largely complete. Analyzing trade journals and other documentary sources, Cook shows how the industry created a market by developing and promulgating new understandings of the “nature,” needs, and motivations of the child consumer. He discusses various ways that discursive constructions of the consuming child were made material: in the creation of separate children’s clothing departments, in their segmentation and layout by age and gender gradations (such as infant, toddler, boys, girls, tweens, and teens), in merchants’ treatment of children as individuals on the retail floor, and in displays designed to appeal directly to children. Ultimately, The Commodification of Childhood provides a compelling argument that any consideration of “the child” must necessarily take into account how childhood came to be understood through, and structured by, a market idiom.


front cover of Crisis for Whom?
Crisis for Whom?
Critical Global Perspectives on Childhood, Care, and Migration
Edited by Rachel Rosen, Elaine Chase, Sarah Crafter, Valentina Glockner, and Sayani Mitra
University College London, 2023
A complex and nuanced interdisciplinary exploration of children in migration crises.

Children are central figures in narratives of “migration crises.” They are often depicted as either essentially vulnerable and in need of special protections, or suspiciously adult-like and a threat to national borders. This bilingual book, written in English and Spanish, challenges these simplistic narratives. Drawing on collaborations between young migrants, researchers, artists, and activists, this collection asks new questions about how crises are produced, mobility is controlled, and childhood is conceptualized. Answers to these questions have profound implications for resources, infrastructures, and relationships of care. The chapters offer insights from diverse global contexts, painting a rich and insightful tapestry about child migration. They stress that children are more than recipients of care and that the crises they face are multiple and stratifying, with long historical roots. Readers are invited to understand migration as an act of concern and love and to attend to how the solidarities between citizens and “others,” adults and children, and between children, are understood and forged.

front cover of Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development
Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development
Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life
Edited by Thomas S. Weisner
University of Chicago Press, 2005
Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development provides a new perspective on the study of childhood and family life. Successful development is enhanced when communities provide meaningful life pathways that children can seek out and engage.  Successful pathways include both a culturally valued direction for development and competence in skills that matter for a child's subsequent success as a person as well as a student, parent, worker, or citizen. To understand successful pathways requires a mix of qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic methods—the state of the art for research practice among developmentalists, educators, and policymakers alike.

This volume includes new studies of minority and immigrant families, school achievement, culture, race and gender, poverty, identity, and experiments and interventions meant to improve family and child contexts. Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development will be of enormous value to everyone interested in the issues of human development, education, and social welfare, and among professionals charged with the task of improving the lives of children in our communities.

front cover of The Erosion of Childhood
The Erosion of Childhood
Valerie Polakow
University of Chicago Press, 1992
How can child care be structured to protect both the interests of children and the rights of women? Must children suffer the "loss" of their childhood through institutional care? Polakow uses her observations of pre-school centers—including profit-run, federally funded, community, and Montessori institutions—to open the "windows of daycare."

front cover of Ethics in Light of Childhood
Ethics in Light of Childhood
John Wall
Georgetown University Press, 2011

Childhood faces humanity with its own deepest and most perplexing questions. An ethics that truly includes the world’s childhoods would transcend pre-modern traditional communities and modern rational autonomy with a postmodern aim of growing responsibility. It would understand human relations in a poetic rather than universalistic sense as openly and interdependently creative. As a consequence, it would produce new understandings of moral being, time, and otherness, as well as of religion, rights, narrative, families, obligation, and power.

Ethics in Light of Childhood fundamentally reimagines ethical thought and practice in light of the experiences of the third of humanity who are children. Much like humanism, feminism, womanism, and environmentalism, Wall argues, a new childism is required that transforms moral thinking, relations, and societies in fundamental ways. Wall explores childhood’s varied impacts on ethical thinking throughout history, advances the emerging interdisciplinary field of childhood studies, and reexamines basic assumptions in contemporary moral theory and practice.

In the process, he does not just apply ethics to childhood but applies childhood to ethics—in order to imagine a more expansive humanity.


front cover of The Evolution of Childhood
The Evolution of Childhood
Relationships, Emotion, Mind
Melvin Konner
Harvard University Press, 2011

This book is an intellectual tour de force: a comprehensive Darwinian interpretation of human development. Looking at the entire range of human evolutionary history, Melvin Konner tells the compelling and complex story of how cross-cultural and universal characteristics of our growth from infancy to adolescence became rooted in genetically inherited characteristics of the human brain.

All study of our evolution starts with one simple truth: human beings take an extraordinarily long time to grow up. What does this extended period of dependency have to do with human brain growth and social interactions? And why is play a sign of cognitive complexity, and a spur for cultural evolution? As Konner explores these questions, and topics ranging from bipedal walking to incest taboos, he firmly lays the foundations of psychology in biology.

As his book eloquently explains, human learning and the greatest human intellectual accomplishments are rooted in our inherited capacity for attachments to each other. In our love of those we learn from, we find our way as individuals and as a species. Never before has this intersection of the biology and psychology of childhood been so brilliantly described.

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," wrote Dobzhansky. In this remarkable book, Melvin Konner shows that nothing in childhood makes sense except in the light of evolution.


front cover of
"Fame Is Not Just for the Fellas"
Female Renown and the Childhood of Famous Americans Series
Gregory M. Pfitzer
University of Massachusetts Press, 2022

Finalist of the 2023 SHARP History of the Book Prize

Between 1932 and 1958, thousands of children read volumes in the book series Childhood of Famous Americans. With colorful cover art and compelling—and often highly fictionalized—narrative storylines, these biographies celebrated the national virtues and achievements of famous women like Betsy Ross, Louisa May Alcott, and Amelia Earhart. Employing deep archival research, Gregory M. Pfitzer examines the editorial and production choices of the publisher and considers the influence of the series on readers and American culture more broadly.

In telling the story of how female subjects were chosen and what went into writing these histories for young female readers of the time, Pfitzer illustrates how these books shaped children’s thinking and historical imaginations around girlhood using tales from the past. Utilizing documented conversations and disagreements among authors, editors, readers, reviewers, and sales agents at Bobbs-Merrill, “Fame Is Not Just for the Fellas” places the series in the context of national debates around fame, gender, historical memory, and portrayals of children and childhood for a young reading public—charged debates that continue to this day.


front cover of Feminism and the Politics of Childhood
Feminism and the Politics of Childhood
Friends or Foes?
Edited by Rachel Rosen and Katherine Twamley
University College London, 2018
Feminism and the Politics of Childhood explores commonalities and conflicts between the various forms of feminism and the politics of childhood. This innovative collection introduces authors from a range of geographical contexts, social science disciplines, activist organizations, and theoretical perspectives. The wide variety of subjects covered includes refugee camps, care labor, family violence, and childhood education. Taken together, the contributions provide ways to conceptualize relations between women and children, addressing injustices faced by both groups.

front cover of Feminist Reflections on Childhood
Feminist Reflections on Childhood
A History and Call to Action
Penny A. Weiss
Temple University Press, 2021

In Feminist Reflections on Childhood, Penny Weiss rediscovers the radically feminist tradition of advocating for the liberatory treatment of youth. Weiss looks at both historical and contemporary feminists to understand what issues surrounding the inequality experienced by both women and children were important to the authors as feminist activists and thinkers. She uses the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Simone de Beauvoir to show early feminist arguments for the improved status and treatment of youth. Weiss also shows how Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a socialist feminist, and Emma Goldman, an anarchist feminist, differently understood and re-visioned children’s lives, as well as how children continue to show up on feminist agendas and in manifestos that demand better conditions for children’s lives.

Moving to contemporary theory, Feminist Reflections on Childhood also looks at how feminist disability theory is well-positioned to recognize the voices of children, and how queer theory provides lessons on contemporary trends that provide visions and strategies for more constructive adult-child relations. Weiss, who includes her own experiences as a mother and foster mother throughout the book, closes her distinctively feminist takes on childhood with a consideration of speculative fiction stories that offer examples of what feminists think makes childhood (un)livable.


front cover of
"From Boys to Men"
The Boy Problem and the Childhood of Famous Americans Series
Gregory M. Pfitzer
University of Massachusetts Press, 2024

While adult concern about gender in children’s books has made recent headlines, this discussion is far from new. As Gregory M. Pfitzer reveals, the writers and editors at Bobbs-Merrill, the publisher of the Childhood of Famous Americans book series published between 1932 and 1958, thought carefully about how their books would influence the development of their male readers. These books emphasized inspiring tales over historical accuracy and were written in simple language, with characters, dialogue, and stories that were intended to teach boys how to be successful men.

But this was a specific image of American manhood. Published in an era when sociologists, psychologists, and other experts worried about male delinquency, the men envisioned in these books were steeped in Cold War racial and gender stereotypes, and questions about citizenship and responsibility. Based on deep archival research into the publication history of the series, “From Boys to Men” sheds light on current controversies on children’s books and presentations of gender diversity.


front cover of Gamelan Girls
Gamelan Girls
Gender, Childhood, and Politics in Balinese Music Ensembles
Sonja Lynn Downing
University of Illinois Press, 2019
In recent years, girls' and mixed-gender ensembles have challenged the tradition of male-dominated gamelan performance. The change heralds a fundamental shift in how Balinese think about gender roles and the gender behavior taught in children's music education. It also makes visible a national reorganization of the arts taking place within debates over issues like women's rights and cultural preservation. Sonja Lynn Downing draws on over a decade of immersive ethnographic work to analyze the ways Balinese musical practices have influenced the processes behind these dramatic changes. As Downing shows, girls and young women assert their agency within the gamelan learning process to challenge entrenched notions of performance and gender. One dramatic result is the creation of new combinations of femininity, musicality, and Balinese identity that resist messages about gendered behavior from the Indonesian nation-state and beyond. Such experimentation expands the accepted gender aesthetics of gamelan performance but also sparks new understanding of the role children can and do play in ongoing debates about identity and power.

front cover of Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain
Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain
Childhood, Political Activism, and Identity Formation
Elke Weesjes
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
This book documents communists’ attempts, successful and otherwise, to overcome their isolation and to connect with the major social and political movements of the twentieth century. Communist parties in Britain and the Netherlands emerged from the Second World War expecting to play a significant role in post-war society, due to their domestic anti-fascist activities and to the part played by the Soviet Union in defeating fascism. The Cold War shattered these hopes, and isolated communist parties and their members. By analysing the accounts of communist children, Weesjes highlights their struggle to establish communities and define their identities within the specific cultural, social, and political frameworks of the Cold War period and beyond.

front cover of Huck’s Raft
Huck’s Raft
A History of American Childhood
Steven Mintz
Harvard University Press, 2006

Like Huck’s raft, the experience of American childhood has been both adventurous and terrifying. For more than three centuries, adults have agonized over raising children while children have followed their own paths to development and expression. Now, Steven Mintz gives us the first comprehensive history of American childhood encompassing both the child’s and the adult’s tumultuous early years of life.

Underscoring diversity through time and across regions, Mintz traces the transformation of children from the sinful creatures perceived by Puritans to the productive workers of nineteenth-century farms and factories, from the cosseted cherubs of the Victorian era to the confident consumers of our own. He explores their role in revolutionary upheaval, westward expansion, industrial growth, wartime mobilization, and the modern welfare state. Revealing the harsh realities of children’s lives through history—the rigors of physical labor, the fear of chronic ailments, the heartbreak of premature death—he also acknowledges the freedom children once possessed to discover their world as well as themselves.

Whether at work or play, at home or school, the transition from childhood to adulthood has required generations of Americans to tackle tremendously difficult challenges. Today, adults impose ever-increasing demands on the young for self-discipline, cognitive development, and academic achievement, even as the influence of the mass media and consumer culture has grown. With a nod to the past, Mintz revisits an alternative to the goal-driven realities of contemporary childhood. An odyssey of psychological self-discovery and growth, this book suggests a vision of childhood that embraces risk and freedom—like the daring adventure on Huck’s raft.


front cover of The Hungry Mind
The Hungry Mind
The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood
Susan Engel
Harvard University Press, 2015

Despite American education’s recent mania for standardized tests, testing misses what really matters about learning: the desire to learn in the first place. Curiosity is vital, but it remains a surprisingly understudied characteristic. The Hungry Mind is a deeply researched, highly readable exploration of what curiosity is, how it can be measured, how it develops in childhood, and how it can be fostered in school.

“Engel draws on the latest social science research and incidents from her own life to understand why curiosity is nearly universal in babies, pervasive in early childhood, and less evident in school…Engel’s most important finding is that most classroom environments discourage curiosity…In an era that prizes quantifiable results, a pedagogy that privileges curiosity is not likely to be a priority.”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today

“Susan Engel’s The Hungry Mind, a book which engages in depth with how our interest and desire to explore the world evolves, makes a valuable contribution not only to the body of academic literature on the developmental and educational psychology of children, but also to our knowledge on why and how we learn.”
—Inez von Weitershausen, LSE Review of Books


front cover of Infinitely Determinable
Infinitely Determinable
Children and Childhood in Modern Literature
Davide Giuriato
Diaphanes, 2021
Upon the “discovery of childhood,” as named by Philippe Ariès, bourgeois culture and modern literature marked out an arcane realm that, while scarcely accessible for adults, acted as a space for projections of the most contradictory kind and diverse ideological purposes: childhood. As this book reveals, from the eighteenth century onwards, the child increasingly came into focus in literature as a mysterious creature. Now the child seems a strange being, constantly unsettling and alienating, although exposed to ongoing territorialization. This is possible because the space of ‘childhood’ is essentially blank and indefinite. Modernity, therefore, has discovered it as a zone, in the words of Friedrich Schiller of “boundless determinability."

logo for Harvard University Press
Legacies of Childhood
Growing up Chinese in a Time of Crisis
John L. Saari
Harvard University Press, 1990
Jon L. Saari defines the generation of educated Chinese born around the turn of the century as "the last to have the world of Confucian learning etched into their memories as schoolboys, yet the first as a group to confront the intrusive Western world." The legacies of growing up in a changing environment deeply affected this generation's responses to the further changes in the world they confronted as adults. In the collapse of the Ch'ing dynasty and the chaos of the early twentieth century, traditional ideas of the self, the nature of relationships in society, and ethical behavior had to be reexamined and redefined. To reconstruct what those who lived through and shaped this extraordinary period felt, needed, thought, and became as children and adults, Saari draws on autobiographical writings and his own interviews among the elderly on Taiwan and Hong Kong. He interprets this material within its Chinese context but brings Western sociological, anthropological, and psychological insights to bear on it.

front cover of
"Let the Little Children Come to Me"
Childhood and Children in Early Christianity"
Cornelia B. Horn
Catholic University of America Press, 2009

front cover of Little Man, Little Man
Little Man, Little Man
A Story of Childhood
James Baldwin
Duke University Press, 1976
Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a “Little Man” with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.

Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.

front cover of Look at Me!
Look at Me!
The Fame Motive from Childhood to Death
Orville Gilbert Brim
University of Michigan Press, 2010

Four million adults in the United States say that becoming famous is the most important goal in their lives. In any random sampling of one hundred American adults, two will have fame as their consuming desire. What motivates those who set fame as their priority, where did the desire come from, how does the pursuit of fame influence their lives, and how is it expressed? Based on the research of Orville Gilbert Brim, award-winning scholar in the field of child and human development, Look at Me! answers those questions.

Look at Me! examines the desire to be famous in people of all ages, backgrounds, and social status and how succeeding or failing affects their lives and their personalities. It explores the implications of the pursuit of fame throughout a person's lifetime, covering the nature of the desire; fame, money, and power; the sources of fame; how people find a path to fame; the kinds of recognition sought; creating an audience; making fame last; and the resulting, often damaged, life of the fame-seeker.

In our current age of celebrity fixation and reality television, Brim gives us a social-psychological perspective on the origins of this pervasive desire for fame and its effects on our lives.

"Look at Me! is a fascinating in-depth study of society's obsession with fame. If you ever wondered what it's like to be famous, why fame comes to some and is sought by others, it's all here . . ."
---Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Chairman and CEO, Time Warner

"In a voice filled with wisdom and insight, daring and self-reflection, Orville Brim masterfully traces the developmental origins and trajectory of fame. Look at Me! lets us see---with new eyes---the cultural priorities and obsessions that feed our individual hunger and appetites. A rare and rewarding book."
---Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University and author of Respect and The Third Chapter

Orville Gilbert Brim has had a long and distinguished career. He is the former director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development, former president of the Foundation for Child Development, former president of the Russell Sage Foundation, and author and coauthor of more than a dozen books about human development, intelligence, ambition, and personality.

Cover image ©


front cover of Monstrous Youth
Monstrous Youth
Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States
Sara Austin
The Ohio State University Press, 2022
The monstrous has a long, complicated history within children’s popular media. In Monstrous Youth: Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States, Sara Austin traces the evolution of monstrosity as it relates to youth culture from the 1950s to the present day to spotlight the symbiotic relationship between monstrosity and the bodies and identities of children and adolescents. Examining comics, films, picture books, novels, television, toys and other material culture—including Monsters, Inc. and works by Mercer Mayer, Maurice Sendak, R. L. Stine, and Stephanie Meyer—Austin tracks how the metaphor of monstrosity excludes, engulfs, and narrates difference within children’s culture.

Analyzing how cultural shifts have drastically changed our perceptions of both what it means to be a monster and what it means to be a child, Austin charts how the portrayal and consumption of monsters corresponds to changes in identity categories such as race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In demonstrating how monstrosity is leveraged in service of political and cultural movements, such as integration, abstinence-only education, and queer rights, Austin offers insight into how monster texts continue to reflect, interpret, and shape the social discourses of identity within children’s culture.


front cover of Mozart and the Mediation of Childhood
Mozart and the Mediation of Childhood
Adeline Mueller
University of Chicago Press, 2021

The story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s precocity is so familiar as to be taken for granted. In scholarship and popular culture, Mozart the Wunderkind is often seen as belonging to a category of childhood all by himself. But treating the young composer as an anomaly risks minimizing his impact. In this book, Adeline Mueller examines how Mozart shaped the social and cultural reevaluation of childhood during the Austrian Enlightenment. Whether in a juvenile sonata printed with his age on the title page, a concerto for a father and daughter, a lullaby, a musical dice game, or a mass for the consecration of an orphanage church, Mozart’s music and persona transformed attitudes toward children’s agency, intellectual capacity, relationships with family and friends, political and economic value, work, school, and leisure time.
Thousands of children across the Habsburg Monarchy were affected by the Salzburg prodigy and the idea he embodied: that childhood itself could be packaged, consumed, deployed, “performed”—in short, mediated—through music. This book builds upon a new understanding of the history of childhood as dynamic and reciprocal, rather than a mere projection or fantasy—as something mediated not just through texts, images, and objects but also through actions. Drawing on a range of evidence, from children’s periodicals to Habsburg court edicts and spurious Mozart prints, Mueller shows that while we need the history of childhood to help us understand Mozart, we also need Mozart to help us understand the history of childhood.


front cover of My Sense of Silence
My Sense of Silence
Memoirs of a Childhood with Deafness
Lennard J. Davis
University of Illinois Press, 1999

Selected as an "Editors Choice" by the Chicago Tribune

Lennard J. Davis grew up as the hearing child of deaf parents. In this candid, affecting, and often funny memoir, he recalls the joys and confusions of this special world, especially his complex and sometimes difficult relationships with his working-class Jewish immigrant parents. Gracefully slipping through memory, regret, longing, and redemption, My Sense of Silence is an eloquent remembrance of human ties and human failings.


logo for Tupelo Press
The Nail in the Tree
Essays on Art, Violence, and Childhood
Carol Ann Davis
Tupelo Press, 2020
The Nail in the Tree meditates on crucial subjects in devastating circumstances, exploring how childhood can be violent and generative, how trauma integrates in art and daily life, and what the artist’s role is. In this part memoir, part art-historical treatise, Carol Ann Davis narrates her experience of raising two sons in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the day of and during the aftermath of the shooting there. She describes revelations her children come to in the weeks that follow, quietly echoes the words of a principal on that day, and recounts painful series of texts and calls to further and further distant family members. She writes in beautiful, devastating, poetic language.

front cover of Ohio Volunteer
Ohio Volunteer
The Childhood and Civil War Memoirs of Captain John Calvin Hartzell, OVI
Charles I. Switzer
Ohio University Press, 2005

When his captain was killed during the Battle of Perryville, John Calvin Hartzell was made commander of Company H, 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He led his men during the Battle of Chickamauga, the siege of Chattanooga, and the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Edited and introduced by Charles Switzer, Ohio Volunteer: The Childhood and Civil War Memoirs of Captain John Calvin Hartzell, OVI documents military strategy, the life of the common soldier, the intense excitement and terror of battle, and the wretchedness of the wounded.

Hartzell’s family implored him to set down his life story, including his experiences in the Civil War from 1862 to 1866. Hartzell did so diligently, taking more than two years to complete his manuscript. The memoir reveals a remarkable memory for vivid details, the ability to see larger and more philosophical perspectives, and a humorous outlook that helped him bear the unbearable.

He also depicted the changing rural economy, the assimilation of the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the transformations wrought by coal mining and the iron industry. Hartzell felt individualism was threatened by the Industrial Revolution and the cruelties of the war. He found his faith in humanity affirmed—and the dramatic tension in his memoir resolved—when 136,000 Union soldiers reenlisted and assured victory for the North. The common soldier, he wrote, was “loyal to the core.”


front cover of The Philosophy of Childhood
The Philosophy of Childhood
Gareth Matthews
Harvard University Press, 1996

So many questions, such an imagination, endless speculation: the child seems to be a natural philosopher--until the ripe old age of eight or nine, when the spirit of inquiry mysteriously fades. What happened? Was it something we did--or didn't do? Was the child truly the philosophical being he once seemed? Gareth Matthews takes up these concerns in The Philosophy of Childhood, a searching account of children's philosophical potential and of childhood as an area of philosophical inquiry. Seeking a philosophy that represents the range and depth of children's inquisitive minds, Matthews explores both how children think and how we, as adults, think about them.

Adult preconceptions about the mental life of children tend to discourage a child's philosophical bent, Matthews suggests, and he probes the sources of these limiting assumptions: restrictive notions of maturation and conceptual development; possible lapses in episodic memory; the experience of identity and growth as "successive selves," which separate us from our own childhoods. By exposing the underpinnings of our adult views of childhood, Matthews, a philosopher and longtime advocate of children's rights, clears the way for recognizing the philosophy of childhood as a legitimate field of inquiry. He then conducts us through various influential models for understanding what it is to be a child, from the theory that individual development recapitulates the development of the human species to accounts of moral and cognitive development, including Piaget's revolutionary model.

The metaphysics of playdough, the authenticity of children's art, the effects of divorce and intimations of mortality on a child--all have a place in Matthews's rich discussion of the philosophical nature of childhood. His book will prompt us to reconsider the distinctions we make about development and the competencies of mind, and what we lose by denying childhood its full philosophical breadth.


front cover of The Queer Aesthetics of Childhood
The Queer Aesthetics of Childhood
Asymmetries of Innocence and the Cultural Politics of Child Development
Hannah Dyer
Rutgers University Press, 2020
2020 Choice​ Outstanding Academic Title

In The Queer Aesthetics of Childhood, Hannah Dyer offers a study of how children’s art and art about childhood can forecast new models of social life that redistribute care, belonging, and political value. Dyer suggests that childhood’s cultural expressions offer insight into the persisting residues of colonial history, nation building, homophobia, and related violence. Drawing from queer and feminist theory, psychoanalysis, settler-colonial studies, and cultural studies, this book helps to explain how some theories of childhood can hurt children. Dyer’s analysis moves between diverse sites and scales, including photographs and an art installation, children’s drawings after experiencing war in Gaza, a novel about gay love and childhood trauma, and debates in sex-education. In the cultural formations of art, she finds new theories of childhood that attend to the knowledge, trauma, fortitude and experience that children might possess. In addressing aggressions against children, ambivalences towards child protection, and the vital contributions children make to transnational politics, she seeks new and queer theories of childhood.

front cover of Return to Childhood
Return to Childhood
The Memoir of a Modern Moroccan Woman
By Leila Abouzeid
University of Texas Press, 1998

Leila Abouzeid, whose novel Year of the Elephant has gone through six reprintings, has now translated her childhood memoir into English. Published in Rabat in 1993 to critical acclaim, the work brings to life the interlocking dramas of family ties and political conflict.

Against a background of Morocco's struggle for independence from French colonial rule, Abouzeid charts the development of personal relationships, between generations as well as between husbands and wives. Abouzeid's father is a central figure; as a strong advocate of Moroccan nationalism, he was frequently imprisoned by the French and his family forced to flee the capital. Si Hmed was a public hero, but the young daughter's memories of her famous father and of the family's plight because of his political activities are not so idyllic.

The memoir utilizes multiple voices, especially those of women, in a manner reminiscent of the narrative strategies of the oral tradition in Moroccan culture. Return to Childhood may also be classified as an autobiography, a form only now gaining respect as a valid literary genre in the Middle East. Abouzeid's own introduction and Elizabeth Fernea's foreword discuss this new development in Arabic literature.


front cover of Return to the Kingdom of Childhood
Return to the Kingdom of Childhood
Re-envisioning the Legacy and Philosophical Relevance of Negritude
Cheikh Thiam
The Ohio State University Press, 2014
Return to the Kingdom of Childhood: Re-envisioning the Legacy and Philosophical Relevance of Negritude examines the philosophy of Negritude through an innovative analysis of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s oeuvre. In the first book-length study of Senghorian philosophy, Cheikh Thiam argues that Senghor’s work expresses an Afri-centered conception of the human while simultaneously offering a critique of the Western universalization of “man.” Senghor’s corrective, descriptive, and prescriptive theory of humanness is developed through a conception of race as a cultural manifestation of being.
Thiam contends that Senghor’s conception of race entails an innovative Afri-centered epistemology and ontology. For Senghor, races are the effects of particular groups’ relations to the world. The so-called “Negroes,” for example, are determined by their epistemology based on their fluid understanding of the ontological manifestations of being. The examination of this ontology and its ensuing epistemology, which is constitutive of the foundation of Senghor’s entire oeuvre, indicates that Negritude is a postcolonial philosophy that stands on its own.
The hermeneutics of Senghor’s race theory show that the Senegalese thinker’s pioneering postcolonial philosophy remains relevant in the postcolonial era. In fact, it questions and expands the works of major contemporary African-descended scholars such as Paul Gilroy, Edouard Glissant, and Molefi Asante. Thiam’s approach is thoroughly interdisciplinary, combining perspectives from philosophy, literary analysis, anthropology, and postcolonial, African, and cultural studies.

logo for University of Illinois Press
A Right to Childhood
The U.S. Children's Bureau and Child Welfare, 1912-46
Kriste Lindenmeyer
University of Illinois Press, 1997
      Warring factions in the United States like to use children as weapons
        for their political agendas as Americans try to determine the role--if
        any--of the federal government in the lives of children. But what is the
        history of child welfare policy in the United States? What can we learn
        from the efforts to found the U.S. Children's bureau in 1903 and its eventual
        dismemberment in 1946?
      This is the first history of the Children's Bureau and the first in-depth
        examination of federal child welfare policy from the perspective of that
        agency. Its goal was to promote "a right to childhood," and
        Kriste Lindenmeyer unflinchingly examines the successes--and the failures--of
        the Bureau. She analyzes infant and maternal mortality, the promotion
        of child health care, child labor reform, and the protection of children
        with "special needs" from the Bureau's inception through the
        Depression, and through all the legislation that impacted on its work
        for children. The meaningful accomplishments and the demise of the Children's
        Bureau have much to tell parents, politicians, and policy-makers everywhere.

front cover of Secret Spaces of Childhood
Secret Spaces of Childhood
Elizabeth Goodenough, Editor
University of Michigan Press, 2003
Whether it's real or imaginary, every child has a secret space, and this remarkable book explores them all. For some it's a treehouse or a hidden spot beneath a bush; for others it's a private psychic refuge--a favorite book, or a dollhouse that becomes a stage for a young imagination. As the more than four dozen pieces collected here reveal, such spaces play a key role in a child's development and retain a symbolic power that resonates throughout our adult lives. No reader will put this book down without experiencing a rush of familiar memories and new insights into that bygone world.
Poet Diane Ackerman evokes that "parallel universe behind the eyes / which no one shared, or dare discover"; Paul Brodeur recalls the "fort" where he and his brother defended Cape Cod against invaders in World War II; Nobelist Wole Soyinka offers a poignant verse portrait of Africa's lost children; and Paul West remembers youthful encounters with his eccentric neighbors Edith and Osbert Sitwell. Elsewhere, Robert Coles summons up memories of his first years as a doctor and a wise young patient who taught him a lesson he has never forgotten, and Mary Galbraith shows how childhood loss is transformed into art in Ludwig Bemelmans's classic Madeline. And these are just a few of the gems in a treasury that includes Anne Frank, the controversial photographs of Sally Mann and the crudely eloquent drawings of young South African refugees, clinical case studies and profoundly personal imagery.
A perceptive, thought-provoking work for general readers, Secret Spaces of Childhood opens a wonderful window on the world of the young.
Elizabeth Goodenough is Lecturer in Comparative Literature, the Residential College, University of Michigan.

front cover of The Self in Transition
The Self in Transition
Infancy to Childhood
Edited by Dante Cicchetti and Marjorie Beeghly
University of Chicago Press, 1990
Twenty-four distinguished behavioral scientists present recent research on the self during the pivotal period of transition from infancy to childhood and place it in historical perspective, citing earlier work of such figures as William James, George Herbert Mead, Sigmund Freud, and Heinz Kohut.

Contributors are Elizabeth Bates, Marjorie Beeghly, Barbara Belmont, Leslie Bottomly, Helen K. Buchsbaum, George Butterworth, Vicki Carlson, Dante Cicchetti, James P. Connell, Robert N. Emde, Jerome Kagan, Robert A. LeVine, Andrew N. Meltzoff, Editha Nottelmann, Sandra Pipp, Marian Radke-Yarrow, Catherine E. Snow, L. Alan Sroufe, Gerald Stechler, Sheree L. Toth, Malcolm Watson, and Dennie Palmer Wolf.

front cover of The Sins of Childhood and Other Stories
The Sins of Childhood and Other Stories
Boleslav Prus
Northwestern University Press, 1996
This is the first English-language collection of stories by the nineteenth-century writer Boleslaw Prus, who has been called the greatest Polish novelist of all time. This new book, containing twelve of his classic short pieces, explores the depth of thought, human warmth, powers of observation, and technical excellence for which he has been justly praised.

front cover of The Social Experience of Childhood in Ancient Mesoamerica
The Social Experience of Childhood in Ancient Mesoamerica
Traci Ardren
University Press of Colorado, 2015
The first book to focus on children in ancient Mesoamerica, this vital reference offers a key methodological guide for archaeologists studying children and their roles not only in Mesoamerica, but also in ancient societies worldwide.

Contributors examine material evidence, historical records, and iconography, productively criticizing the claim that children are invisible in the archaeological record and elucidating an ancient childhood comprising multiple and complex identities. They explore the methodological and theoretical difficulties created when investigating childhood - a category defined by each culture - in the archaeological record.

Sure to appeal widely to New World and Old World archaeologists and anthropologists, The Social Experience of Childhood in Ancient Mesoamerica will open up new avenues of research into the lives of this previously overlooked yet remarkably large population.

Contributors include Traci Ardren, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Billie Follensbee, Byron Hamann, Scott R. Hutson, Rosemary A. Joyce, Stacie M. King, Jeanne Lopiparo, Patricia McAnany, Geoffrey G. McCafferty, Sharisse D. McCafferty, Juan Alberto Román Berrelleza, Rebecca Storey, Rissa M. Trachman, Fred Valdez Jr.


logo for Harvard University Press
Strange Dislocations
Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780–1930
Carolyn Steedman
Harvard University Press, 1995

Strange, deformed, and piercingly beautiful, the child acrobat Mignon sprang onto the public stage in 1795. No child at all, but a figment of Goethe’s fiction, Mignon appeared and reappeared in countless forms and guises over the next century. The meaning of this compelling creature is at the center of Carolyn Steedman’s book, a brilliant account of how nineteenth-century notions of childhood, like those expressed in the figure of Mignon, gave birth to the modern idea of a self.

During the nineteenth century, a change took place in the way people in Western societies understood themselves—the way they understood the self and how it came into being. Steedman tracks this development through changing attitudes about children and childhood as these appear in literature and law, medicine, science, and social history. Moving from the world of German fiction to that of child acrobats and “street arabs” in nineteenth-century Britain, from the theories of Freud to those of Foucault, she shows how the individual and personal history that a child embodied came to represent human “insideness.” Particularly important for understanding this change is the part that Freudian psychoanalysis played, between 1900 and 1920, in summarizing and reformulating the Victorian idea that the core of an individual’s psychic identity was his or her own lost past, or childhood.

Using the perspectives of social and cultural history, and the history of psychology and physiology, Strange Dislocations traces a search for the self, for a past that is lost and gone, and the ways in which, over the last hundred years, the lost vision has come to assume the form of a child.


logo for Pluto Press
This Little Kiddy Went to Market
The Corporate Capture of Childhood
Sharon Beder, Wendy Varney, and Richard Gosden
Pluto Press, 2009

This book investigates the way that corporations are strategically shaping children to be under-aged hyperconsumers as well as the submissive employees and uncritical citizens of the future.

Sharon Beder shows how marketers and advertisers are targeting ever younger children in a relentless campaign, transforming children's play into a commercial opportunity and taking advantage of childish anxieties. 

Beder investigates the corporate relations and ideals that infiltrate every aspect of our lives. She presents an alarming picture of how a child's social development -- through education, health care and nutrition -- has become an ordered conveyor belt of consumerist conditioning. Focusing on education in particular, Beder explains how businesses are taking control of more and more aspects of schooling, not only for profit but to erode state schooling and promote business values. Similarly, she shows how 'difficult' children are taught from an early age that pharmaceuticals can be used to discipline them or to make them 'happy'.


front cover of To the Memory of Childhood
To the Memory of Childhood
Lydia Chukovskaya
Northwestern University Press, 1988
For years Lydia Chukovskaya's support for persecuted writers cut her off from her own audience. Even her name was banned in the USSR, and she was expelled from the Union of Writers in 1974. Though unable to publish at home and cut off from contacts with readers and editors, Chukovskaya continued to write. To the Memory of Childhood, her loving chronicle of growing up beside the Gulf of Finland with her father, the writer Kornei Chukovsky, reveals the sources of her strength and her belief in the power of the written word.

Her father is a household name in Russia because of his tales in verse for children. But his literary accomplishments ranged far beyond bedtime stories. As a critic he wrote controversial articles and lively profiles of cultural figures; as a translator he introduced Whitman, Twain, Kipling, and Wilde to Russian readers. When his children's literature was attacked in the 1920s and 1930s, he turned to editing, scholarship, and articles on translation. A man of boundless energy, he played a vital role in his country's cultural life until his death in 1969. "I am not writing Kornei Ivanovich's biography," Chukovskaya says, "but he was the author of my childhood."

front cover of Traditional Healers and Childhood in Zimbabwe
Traditional Healers and Childhood in Zimbabwe
Pamela Reynolds
Ohio University Press, 1995

Based on the author’s fieldwork among the people of Zezuru, this study focuses on children as clients and as healers in training. In Reynolds’s ethnographic investigation of possession and healing, she pays particular attention to the way healers are identified and authenticated in communities, and how they are socialized in the use of medicinal plants, dreams, and ritual healing practices. Reynolds examines spiritual interpretation and remediation of children’s problems, including women’s roles in these activities, and the Zezuru concepts of trauma, evil, illness, and death. Because this study was undertaken just after the War of Liberation in Zimbabwe, it also documents the devastating effects of the war.


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter