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Childhood and Textuality: Culture, History, Literature

Chapter

Abstract

Children and childhood have in many ways become one of the central concerns of our time in terms of political and public policy and the media in Western culture. Education, discipline, youth crime, drugs, child abuse, morality and the family have become constant topics of attention. The perceived loss of discipline in American and British schools, the murder or abuse of children, leading, for example, in Britain to new laws on arms-control and children’s homes, or in Belgium to a new political movement challenging alleged corruption in the police and judiciary, demonstrate that ideas about children and their role in society are made to engage with the widest issues of social, communal, moral, legal, and political concern. How are these ideas and problems formulated and understood: how does our society see and position childhood and the child? What factors are deemed to be of relevance to these discussions, and what kind of language can be used? In this volume new and original articles on childhood and the child, written by historians, literary critics, children’s literature critics, psychologists, and a film and drama theorist have been gathered together. All the articles are theoretical in their orientation, with an interest in exploring the specific difficulties that arise in writing about childhood, but they also all engage with particular examples and case-studies to demonstrate and clarify the problems and consequences of the theoretical issues.

Keywords

Drama Theorist Emotional Capital Real Child Young Adult Literature Fictional Reality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Jane Pilcher and Stephen Wagg, ‘Introduction: Thatcher’s Children?’ in: Jane Pilcher and Stephen Wagg (eds), Thatcher’s Children? Politics, Childhood and Society in the 1980s and 1990s (London: The Falmer Press, 1996), pp. 1–7, p. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jacqueline Rose, The Case of Peter Pan or: The Impossibility of Children’s Fiction (series: Language, Discourse, Society, eds Stephen Heath and Colin MacCabe) (London: Macmillan, 1984), p. 7.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Allison James and Alan Prout, ‘Introduction’ in: Allison James and Alan Prout (eds), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood (London: The Falmer Press, second edition 1997), pp. 1–6, p. 3.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Caroline Hunt, ‘Young Adult Literature Evades the Theorists’, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1 (1996), pp. 4–11, pp. 6–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Martin Barker, Comics: Power, Ideology, and the Critics (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989);Google Scholar
  6. Chris Jenks (ed.), The Sociology of Childhood: Essential Readings (London: Batsford Academic and Educational, 1982);Google Scholar
  7. Chris Jenks, Childhood (series: Key Ideas, series ed. Peter Hamilton) (London: Routledge, 1996);Google Scholar
  8. Allison James and Alan Prout (eds), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood (London: The Falmer Press, 1990; second edition 1997);Google Scholar
  9. Jane Pilcher and Stephen Wagg (eds), Thatcher’s Children? Politics, Childhood and Society in the 1980s and 1990s (London: The Falmer Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    Philippe Ariès, Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life, trans. Robert Baldick (New York: Vintage Books, 1962).Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    Hugh Cunningham, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (series: Studies in Modern History, eds John Morrill and David Cannadine) (London: Longman, 1995), p. 30.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Shulamith Shahar, Childhood in the Middle Ages, trans. Chaya Galai (London: Routledge, 1990, paperback 1992), p. 1.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Linda Pollock, Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 263.Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    For contrasting discussions within psychology itself on the role of culture see, for instance: R.A. Shweder and R.A. Levine (eds), Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984);Google Scholar
  15. J. Stigler, R.A. Shweder, and G. Herdt (eds), Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989);Google Scholar
  16. R.A. Shweder, Thinking through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991);Google Scholar
  17. Erica Burman, Deconstructing Developmental Psychology (London: Routledge, 1994);Google Scholar
  18. Michael Cole, Cultural Psychology: A Once and Future Discipline (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press/ Harvard University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
  19. Bradd Shore, Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
  20. Jerome Bruner, The Culture of Education (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997). These works (except for Erica Burman’s) are also referred to and discussed in a review of Bruner’s The Culture of Education entitled ‘Learning with Bruner’ by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz in: The New York Review of Books, vol. XLIV, no. 6, April 10 (1997), pp. 22–4.Google Scholar
  21. 28.
    Daniel Stern, The Motherhood Constellation: A Unified View of Parent-Infant Psychotherapy (New York: Basic Books, 1995), p. 173.Google Scholar
  22. 30.
    Pilcher and Wagg, op. cit., p. 3. The quote within this quote is from: M. Hayes, The New Right in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1994), p. 89.Google Scholar
  23. 31.
    Chris Jenks, Childhood (series: Key Ideas, series ed. Peter Hamilton) (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), p. 3.Google Scholar
  24. 32.
    Peter Hunt, Criticism, Theory, and Children’s Literature (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), p. 172, p. 153.Google Scholar
  25. 34.
    Roberta Seelinger Trites, ‘Introduction: Theories and Possibilities of Adolescent Literature’, in: Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 2–3, p. 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 40.
    Virginia Schaefer Carroll, ‘Re-Reading the Romance of Seventeenth Summer’, in: Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 12–19, p. 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 43.
    Patricia Head, ‘Robert Cormier and the Postmodernist Possibilities of Young Adult Fiction’, in: Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 28–33, p. 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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