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

Oct  20

CFP: Children’s Rights and Children’s Literature

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS and CHILDREN’S LITERATURE Special Issue of The Lion and the Unicorn

Guest Editors: Lara Saguisag, College of Staten Island-City University of New York and Matthew B. Prickett, Rutgers University-Camden

We are seeking papers that investigate the intersections between the histories, theories, and practices of children’s rights and children’s literature. In response to the ratification of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC) in 1989, advocates and scholars have debated the necessity and revealed the complexity of defining and implementing children’s rights across the globe. Critical discourse on children’s rights, however, has not yet fully examined the role that children’s literature plays in shaping, promoting, implementing and interrogating children’s rights. This special issue invites scholars to explore the connections between the institutions of children’s rights and children’s literature.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Depictions of young people’s political and/or economic participation in children’s and young adult literature
  • Literary representations of child soldiers, child laborers, child sex workers and other young people whose rights are deemed violated
  • The role of children’s literature in fulfilling young people’s rights (such as the right to education and the right to leisure)
  • The relationships between charters on human and children’s rights (such as the 1930 White House Convention Children’s Charter, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1989 United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child) and twentieth-century children’s literature
  • How historical fiction and non-fiction about other rights movements (women’s rights, gay rights, Civil Rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, etc. ) attempt to shape young readers’ understanding of rights
  • U.N.-funded children’s books that explicitly promote children’s rights
  • Poverty and children’s and young adult literature
  • Colonialism/Postcolonialism and children’s and young adult literature
  • Citizenship and children’s and young adult literature
  • Censorship and children’s rights
  • Conflicts between child characters and adult characters over the child’s rights and obligations

Essays should be sent to guest editors Lara Saguisag and Matthew B. Prickett at by May 31, 2015. Submissions should be 15-20 pages (4000-6000 words). Accepted articles will appear in issue 40.2 (2016) of The Lion and the Unicorn.

Oct  15

Guest Post: Sarah Emily Duff on Dangerous Girls

Sarah Emily Duff is a Researcher at WiSER, and holds a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London. Her research is on histories of childhood, sexuality, and medicine in nineteenth- and twentieth-century South Africa. Funded by a prestigious, five-year Research Career Advancement Fellowship from the National Research Foundation (NRF), her current project investigates histories of sex education in twentieth-century South Africa. Before joining WiSER, Sarah held an NRF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Stellenbosch University, and lectured at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has published in the Journal of Southern African Studies, the South African Historical Journal, and the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, as well as in several edited collections. She has articles forthcoming in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and Kronos. Her monograph, Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhood, 1860-1895, will be published in 2014 by Palgrave Macmillan, in a new series on global histories of childhood.

In September 1901, a little more than six months before the conclusion of the South African War (1899-1902), John Fourie, a resident of Aberdeen in the rural eastern districts of the Cape Colony, noted in his diary:

Mrs. Niel P. Fouche and family (women and children only) had to appear before the Commandant this morning, because they did not open the door on Saturday night, when the Tommies were hammering at it. When Mrs F. asked who it was, they would not answer, and when they broke the door a little daughter of Mrs F. about 12 years of age through [sic] at them with an axe.

A few months previously, Anna Cummings, the headmistress of a girls’ school in Wellington, a small, prosperous town about forty-five miles outside of Cape Town, wrote to her brother in the United States, describing an incident related to her by a friend. A British officer had been tasked with removing a mother and daughter from a farm to a refugee camp. Moved by their ‘tears and entreaties’ he agreed to return later, so that they could pack a few possessions for the journey, and properly shut up their house for what would be an indefinite stay in the camps:

so he rode around to their door a few days after and was cordially invited to enter. He was about to accept their invitation, when his suspicions were aroused and he remounted, saying he would come again and asking the girl to show him the road to a certain place which required her to keep between him and the house. When she no longer covered him and so was out of danger, a volley of shots was fired at him from the open door.

The soldier managed to escape.

In my article, “‘Capture the Children’: Writing Children into the South African War, 1899-1902,” I include Fourie’s diary entry as an example of children’s own violent encounters with British and Boer forces in the conflict. It is on its own an arresting account of a child’s response to a group of soldiers whose motives were, clearly, construed as threatening. But read alongside Cummings’ letter – which I do not refer to in my essay – it takes on a different quality. How many girls – Boer or otherwise – took up arms to defend their households?

I think this question is worth asking because Cummings’ account could fairly easily be described as rumor. She reports information passed to her by a friend who, quite possibly, may have heard the story from someone else. Rumors did certainly circulate during the South African War – as in any conflict – and they involved the experiences of civilians. If there were stories circulating about young women’s responses to soldiers – British in these cases – then it is worth considering them more closely.

In Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa (2000), Luise White draws historians’ attention to the value of rumor, gossip, and lies as sources. Her goal, she explains, was to

reverse many of the methods with which we write history. I argued that historians could read in the inaccurate, the fantastic, and the constructed a world of colonized peoples we would not otherwise see. And that world, glimpsed through the fantastic and constructed accounts, was a more specific version of events than we’d had before. It was a world we couldn’t see if we labeled accounts true or false and stopped there, or if we simply threw out the accounts we deemed false.[1]

She makes the point that however much rumor and gossip may invent or distort what is ‘truthful,’ they also draw attention to a range of anxieties and concerns that would otherwise go unarticulated. After all, in order to be believable, ‘make-up and make-believe’ must be ‘constituted by what is credible.’ They must be ‘constructed out of what is socially conceivable.’[2]

The South African War involved civilians on an almost unprecedented scale. After the capture of the capitals of the two Boer Republics in June 1900, Boer forces resorted to guerilla tactics: small groups of fighters (called commandos) used their knowledge of the landscape of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, as well as the two British colonies, the Cape and Natal, to drag the conflict on until May 1902.

Britain’s scorched earth policy implemented from December 1900, aimed to cut off Boer commandoes’ supply lines by imprisoning the inhabitants of rural farms – Boer women and children and black laborers – who provided them with the provisions which allowed them to continue fighting. The first refugee camps were established in early 1901.

Boer commandos conducted raids into the Cape and Natal. They had been particularly successful in the area around Aberdeen, and, as a result of this, martial law was particularly harshly implemented there. The Tommies referred to in Fourie’s diary were probably searching farms for Boer fighters, and the Fouche family could expect harsh penalties for harboring enemy combatants.

The Fouche girl’s act sheds light, then, on why rumors would circulate around young women finding ways of attacking enemy soldiers: this was a war being fought even in domestic spaces. Although only fourteen British soldiers – nine of whom were acquitted – were charged with rape during the conflict, it is likely that the figures were considerably higher. Boer women testified at court martial trials during the War that they had been the victims of attempted rape and sexual assault, but the majority of these allegations were dismissed as misrepresentation or lies.[3]

The leadership of the British army was at pains to describe in local and foreign publications its soldiers as adhering closely to codes of chivalry, and of gentlemanly behavior. In these terms, it was impossible for them to rape. But it is clear that they did rape. The usefulness of these kinds of fragments and rumors is that they bring to the surface that which could not be spoken or articulated in public.

But other than allowing civilians, particularly women, to express fears that would otherwise be dismissed or considered inappropriate for polite conversation, these rumors about dangerous girls could also have functioned as a fantasy of revenge: a suggestion that it was possible for women to take up arms against their enemy.

[1] Luise White, “Telling More: Lies, Secrets, and History,” History and Theory, Theme Issue 39 (Dec. 2000), p. 13. [2] White, “Telling More,” pp. 12-13. [3]Stephen M. Miller, “Duty or Crime? Defining Acceptable Behavior in the British Army in South Africa, 1899-1902,’ Journal of British Studies, vol. 49, no. 2 (April 2010), pp. 322-324.

Oct  13

2014 Outreach Grant Report: Legal History Consortium

On June 1-2, 2014 an SHCY Outreach Grant helped the Legal History Consortium hold a conference on conference “The Law and the Child in Historical Perspective” in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota Law School. The conference was the fourth sponsored by the Consortium, which includes: the University of Minnesota Law School and History Department, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, University of Michigan Law School, University of Chicago Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School and History Department, and University of Illinois Law School. It was established to nurture the work of beginning and early career (advanced graduate students and pre-tenure) scholars in the field of legal history, focusing each conference on a topic of special significance in the field of legal history.

This year’s conference focused on the legal history of children and youth. It attracted emerging scholars working in a broad range of fields geographically, chronologically, and topically. We could accept only 15 of the 57 submissions for the day and half conference. They were divided into five panels with three papers each. All participants read the papers and participated in the discussions; Consortium members served as commentators and discussion leaders. The results were terrific.

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Oct  01

Deadline Extended for SHCY2015 Proposals!

2015 Conference: CFP Society for the History of Children and Youth Eighth Biennial Conference

Date: June 24-26th, 2015 Location: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Proposal Submission Deadline: OCTOBER 15, 2014 (FINAL)

Description: “In Relation: Children, Youth, and Belonging”

The Program Committee invites proposals for panels, papers, roundtables or workshops that explore histories of children and youth from any place and in any era. We will, however, give particular attention to proposals with a strong historical emphasis and that bear on the theme of this year’s conference. Relationships are foundational to human lives and to children’s experience of the world. They might involve coercion and suffering, or agency and liberation. Domestic relationships with parents, caregivers, siblings, relatives, and pets shape young people’s sense of self, their experiences and their place in the world. Wider relationship circles, including those with peers and adult professionals such as teachers, doctors, police, and social workers, likewise affect young people’s position in the world in diverse ways. The complex effects of large-scale events and phenomena including colonization, imperialism, war, industrialization, urbanization, and disease epidemics, among others, have both direct and indirect effects on young peoples’ relationships that vary across time and cultural context. Virtual relationships facilitated by letter writing and, more recently, digital technology, provide young people with a distinctive window onto international connections and cross-cultural influences. Relations of power, often uneven and always nuanced by gender, race, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability, flow through all relationships that young people forge and encounter. Historical research that explores the varied meanings attached to the range of relationships young people experience usefully expands our understanding of both the past and present.

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Oct  01

Guest Post: Mark E. Lincicome on Conversations with Nakano Akira

Photo 1

Mark E. Lincicome is an Associate Professor of history at College of the Holy Cross. He specializes in early modern and modern Japanese history and culture, Japanese intellectual history, educational reform movements and the politics of education in modern Japan, and globalization in Asia.

My personal relationship with Nakano Akira, who is the subject of my essay, “In the Shadow of the Asia-Pacific War,” dates back some two decades. I first contacted him in the early 1990s seeking his advice and assistance as an expert on the so-called “Taisho liberal education” movement, which coincided with other “progressive” social and political movements in Japan between the two world wars. We soon became friends: my family and I hosted Professor Nakano and his wife at our house in Massachusetts for a week back in 1996, while I have visited their comfortable home in suburban Tokyo at least a half-dozen times since then, where I am always treated to a sumptuous sushi lunch after first sipping tea and talking with Professor Nakano about our respective research projects in their sitting room. Photo 1 It is in the sitting room, on the top shelf of a bookcase in the corner (see photo #1, taken in October 2013), where Nakano displays a small, white plaster relief of famed Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi (see photo #2). As I explain in my essay, this piece, which Nakano’s father cast during the early years of the Taisho liberal education movement, is steeped in symbolism. For Nakano it serves, among other things, as a poignant reminder of a life-changing conversation he had with his father during his youth, as he despaired over the meaning of Japan’s recent defeat in the Asia-Pacific War. Photo 2 From my vantage point, this plaster relief also symbolizes the subjectivity that casts its own indelible mark on the work of every historian, whether he or she acknowledges it—as Nakano does—or not. Nakano’s candid expressions of admiration for the progressive ideals espoused by Taisho-era educational reformers like his father, on one hand, and his frustration over their inconsistent defense of those ideals in the face of political and bureaucratic opposition, on the other, stem from the doubts and despair he experienced as a patriotic “military youth” who proudly entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy (see photo #3) in the spring of 1945, only to witness his country’s long “holy war” and its promise of “certain victory” conclude with “unconditional surrender” and foreign occupation six months later. Nakano3 For reasons that I explain in the introduction, Part Two of my article features my translation of an essay that Nakano wrote and published in Japanese in 2000. I wish to thank James Marten and the editorial board of the Journal of History of Childhood and Youth for allowing me to include it. I hope that their decision will encourage other journals in related fields to follow suit.

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