Adult Supervision Required considers the contradictory ways in which contemporary American culture has imagined individual autonomy for parents and children. In many ways, today’s parents and children have more freedom than ever before. There is widespread respect for children’s autonomy as distinct individuals, and a broad range of parenting styles are flourishing. Yet it may also be fair to say that there is an unprecedented fear of children’s and parents’ freedom. Dread about Amber Alerts and “stranger danger” have put an end to the unsupervised outdoor play enjoyed by earlier generations of suburban kids. Similarly, fear of bad parenting has not only given rise to a cottage industry of advice books for anxious parents, but has also granted state agencies greater power to police the family.
Using popular parenting advice literature as a springboard for a broader sociological analysis of the American family, Markella B. Rutherford explores how our increasingly psychological conception of the family might be jeopardizing our appreciation for parents’ and children’s public lives and civil liberties.
From his celebrated appearance, hatchet in hand, in Parson Mason Locke Weems’s Life of Washington to Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, the all-American boy was an iconic figure in American literature for well over a century. Sometimes he was a “good boy,” whose dutiful behavior was intended as a model for real boys to emulate. Other times, he was a “bad boy,” whose mischievous escapades could be excused either as youthful exuberance that foreshadowed adult industriousness or as deserved attacks on undemocratic pomp and pretension. But whether good or bad, the all-American boy was a product of the historical moment in which he made his appearance in print, and to trace his evolution over time is to take a fresh view of America’s cultural history, which is precisely what Larzer Ziff accomplishes in All-American Boy.
Ziff looks at eight classic examples of the all-American boy—young Washington, Rollo, Tom Bailey, Tom Sawyer, Ragged Dick, Peck’s “bad boy,” Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Penrod—as well as two notable antitheses—Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield. Setting each boy in a rich cultural context, Ziff reveals how the all-American boy represented a response to his times, ranging from the newly independent nation’s need for models of democratic citizenship, to the tales of rags-to-riches beloved during a century of accelerating economic competition, to the recognition of adolescence as a distinct phase of life, which created a stage on which the white, middle-class “solid citizen” boy and the alienated youth both played their parts.
Explores childhood in relation to blackness, transfeminism, queerness, and deportability to interrogate what “the child” makes possible
The concept of childhood contains many contested and ambivalent meanings that have extraordinary implications, particularly for those staking their claim for belonging and justice on the wish for inclusion within it. In Ambivalent Childhoods, Jacob Breslow examines contemporary U.S. social justice movements (including Black Lives Matter, transfeminism, queer youth activism, and antideportation movements) to discover and reveal how childhood operates within and against them.
Ambivalent Childhoods brings together critical race, trans, feminist, queer, critical migration, and psychoanalytic theories to explore the role of childhood in shaping and challenging the disposability of young black life, the steadfastness of the gender binary, the queer life of children’s desires, and the precarious status of migrants. Through an engagement with“the psychic life of the child” that combines theoretical discussions of childhood, blackness, transfeminism, and deportability with critical readings of films, narrative, images, and social justice movements, Breslow demonstrates how childhood requires sustained attention as a complex and ambivalent site for contesting the workings of power, not only for the young.
Ambivalent Childhoods is a forward-thinking and intersectional analysis of how childhood affects activism, national belonging, and the violence directed against queer, trans, and racialized people.
Children have served as soldiers throughout history. They fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and in both world wars. They served as uniformed soldiers, camouflaged insurgents, and even suicide bombers. Indeed, the first U.S. soldier to be killed by hostile fire in the Afghanistan war was shot in ambush by a fourteen-year-old boy.
Does this mean that child soldiers are aggressors? Or are they victims? It is a difficult question with no obvious answer, yet in recent years the acceptable answer among humanitarian organizations and contemporary scholars has been resoundingly the latter. These children are most often seen as especially hideous examples of adult criminal exploitation.
In this provocative book, David M. Rosen argues that this response vastly oversimplifies the child soldier problem. Drawing on three dramatic examples-from Sierra Leone, Palestine, and Eastern Europe during the Holocaust-Rosen vividly illustrates this controversial view. In each case, he shows that children are not always passive victims, but often make the rational decision that not fighting is worse than fighting.
With a critical eye to international law, Armies of the Young urges readers to reconsider the situation of child combatants in light of circumstance and history before adopting uninformed child protectionist views. In the process, Rosen paints a memorable and unsettling picture of the role of children in international conflicts.
For Lanclos, children's experiences stimulate discussions about culture and society. In her words, "Children's everyday lives are more than just preparation for their futures, but are life itself."
At Play in Belfast is a volume in the Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner.
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