All SHCY members receive the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. Published three times a year, it features scholarly research and critical book reviews.

Recent Updates

Sep  08

CFP: Playthings in Early Modernity

Contributions are sought for an interdisciplinary collection of essays to be edited by Allison Levy and published by Ashgate Publishing Co. in the new book series, Cultures of Play, 1300-1700 (see http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=5166; series editor Bret Rothstein). Dedicated to early modern playfulness, this series serves two purposes. First, it recounts the history of wit, humor, and games, from jokes and sermons, for instance, to backgammon and blind man’s buff. Second, in addressing its topic – ludic culture – broadly, Cultures of Play also provides a forum for reconceptualizing the play elements of early modern economic, political, religious, and social life.

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Sep  08

Guest Post: Michelle Ann Abate on Children’s Sexuality

Michelle Ann Abate is Associate Professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults at The Ohio State University. She is the author of three books of literary criticism: Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children’s Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), Raising Your Kids Right: Children’s Literature and American Political Conservatism (Rutgers University Press, 2010), and Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History (Temple University Press, 2008). Michelle is also the co-editor of three books of critical essays: C. S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia Casebook, with Lance Weldy (Palgrave, 2012); Global Perspectives on Tarzan: From King of the Jungle to International Icon, with Annette Wannamaker (Routledge, 2011), Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature, with Kenneth B. Kidd (University of Michigan Press, 2010).

The question of children’s sexuality has long been a controversial one. Elementary-aged young people are commonly seen a being asexual or, perhaps more accurately, pre-sexual. If boys and girls are seen as possessing any erotic inclination at all, it is commonly presumed to be heterosexual. The cultural prevalence and societal power of this belief is evidenced in examples ranging from the sale of onesies for newborn boys with phrases like “Chick Magnet” on them to the abundance of decorative photographs featuring Kindergarten-aged girls in dresses accepting a bouquet of flowers from little boys in oversized suits during what appears to be a mock date.

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Sep  03

New Book: Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

James Marten is Professor and Chair of the History Department at Marquette University. He is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including in this series Children in Colonial America; Children and Youth in a New Nation; and Children and Youth during the Civil War Era (all available from NYU Press).

Paula S. Fass is the Margaret Byrne Professor History at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education, and The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. She is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society and (with Mary Ann Mason) Childhood in America (available from NYU Press).

In the decades after the Civil War, urbanization, industrialization, and immigration marked the start of the Gilded Age, a period of rapid economic growth but also social upheaval. Reformers responded to the social and economic chaos with a “search for order,” as famously described by historian Robert Wiebe. Most reformers agreed that one of the nation’s top priorities should be its children and youth, who, they believed, suffered more from the disorder plaguing the rapidly growing nation than any other group.

Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era explores both nineteenth century conditions that led Progressives to their search for order and some of the solutions applied to children and youth in the context of that search. Edited by renowned scholar of children’s history James Marten, the collection of eleven essays offers case studies relevant to educational reform, child labor laws, underage marriage, and recreation for children, among others. Including important primary documents produced by children themselves, the essays in this volume foreground the role that youth played in exerting agency over their own lives and in contesting the policies that sought to protect and control them.

Aug  05

2014 Outreach Grant Report: Working Group on Children

On June 4, 2014, an SHCY Outreach Grant helped the Working Group on Children at the University of California, Santa Cruz bring Mary Niall Mitchell, Joseph Tregle Professor in Early American History, Ethel and Herman Midlo Chair in New Orleans Studies, and Associate Professor at the University of New Orleans, to present her current project exploring children, photography, and the politics of abolition in the nineteenth century United States. Mitchell, author of Raising Freedom’s Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future after Slavery (New York University Press, 2010), presented “The Slave Girl in the Archive: A Tale of Paper and Glass,” a talk drawing on her current research. Mitchell’s project tells the story of a girl named Mary Botts, the first light-skinned formerly enslaved child to be photographed for abolitionist purposes. Beginning with the deposit of the child’s daguerreotype portrait at the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1921, Mitchell unspools the history of Mary’s family and their long efforts to be free from slavery. “The Slave Girl in the Archive” uses this narrative to explore connections between the lives of enslaved people and the variety of documents and artifacts that contain traces of them. The talk attracted a lively audience of about thirty-five people, drawing faculty and graduate students from across disciplines, including History, Literature, Politics, and Philosophy to the campus’s weekly Cultural Studies Colloquium.

In addition to the talk, Prof. Mitchell led a workshop directly addressing the possibilities and challenges of writing the history of children. The workshop, entitled “Archival Challenges: Children, Slavery and Nineteenth Century Visual Culture,” included a discussion of pre-circulated readings, including selections from Robin Bernstein’s Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (New York University Press, 2011), Mary Langdon’s Ida May: A Story of Things Actual and Possible (London, 1854), Alan Trachtenberg, “Reading Lessons: Stories of a Daguerreotype,” Nineteenth Century Contexts 22 (2001), 537-557, and Mitchell’s recent piece in the New York Times’ Disunion blog, “The Young White Faces of Slavery,” January 30, 2014. The workshop was attended by a mixture of faculty and graduate student participants in the Working Group on Children. The conversation ranged widely but was particularly focused on the value of fiction in attempting to reconstruct the historical values attached to childhood, as well as the importance of historical investigation to illuminate the distance between sentimental representations and children’s historical lives. The Institute for Humanities Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz also provided support for both events.

For more information on the event, including audio of the talk, please visit this website:
http://ihr.ucsc.edu/portfolio/mary-niall-mitchell-workshop-archival-challenges-children-slavery-and-nineteenth-century-visual-culture/

Jul  22

CFP: Transnational Childhoods

For the topic focused on “Transnational Childhoods” of the journal Transnational Social Review–A Social Work Journal (TSR), the guest editors Ruth Emond and Florian Esser invite your submissions of proposal abstracts.

Full information (PDF): CFP_Transnational_Childhoods

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