Conference: Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History

Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
November 29 to December 1, 2012


The emotional upbringing and education of children is a topic of acute
historical as well as contemporary concern for policy makers and politicians.
The main goal of this conference is to draw together new research in the
history of childhood and youth, in the history of education and the important
interventions from the emerging discipline of the history of the emotions. The
conference seeks to build a comparative history of the education of the
emotions through an exploration of formal and informal educational contexts of
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The intent of the conference is to focus broadly on both formal and informal
educational strategies, both inside and outside of the family, and at the level
of the State. How far did the State exercise control over the education of the
emotions? To what extent did governmental strategies inform, and to what extent
were they informed by, political, ideological, cultural, familial and religious
understandings of children and their emotional states? What was the role, from
the late nineteenth century, of voluntary societies in informing official state
policy on childhood? Also at this time, did the increasingly professionalized
scientific, psychological, educational fields fundamentally alter ideas and
policies related to children and emotions?

Schools, youth associations, religious institutions and family structures all
contributed, and sometimes competed, in providing children and youth with the
necessary emotional and moral framework in order to shape the next generation
of men, women, workers and citizens. How did children and youth navigate this
range of emotional contexts, feelings and expressions in different phases of
growing up? To what extent were various forms of childhood education informed
by questions of emotion? How did changing historical perceptions of childhood
interact with changing conceptions of emotions and vice versa? Is there such a
thing as a distinct set of emotions in childhood and how does this change over
time? In what ways can the history of emotions and the history of childhood and
youth be integrated to allow deeper insight in both? What are the
methodological challenges here and what sorts of source material can be

Possible topics include the history of emotions and:
• Theory and methodology linked with the history of childhood and youth
• Imperial/colonial and postcolonial childhood and cross-cultural perspectives
• Education in school and outside of institutional settings (professional and
• Professionalization of disciplines related to childhood and youth and child
• Family and community networks
• Popular culture (media, music, literature, movies, television and visual
• Religious and secular norms of behaviour and feeling, and resistance to them
• Material culture (clothes, toys, spaces, advertising)
• Gendered and racialized childhood and youth
• Experiences in infancy, childhood, and adolescence (e.g., intensity or
variability of emotional experiences; mixed emotions)
• Expression and control of emotions in infancy, childhood, adolescence
• Particular emotions (e.g. anger, fear, love)
• Moral development and moral education This three-day international conference
will bring together scholars interested in the intersection of childhood,
youth, education and the emotions in historical perspectives.
Multi-disciplinary perspectives are welcome and encouraged. The conference will
be held at the Institute for Human Development, Centre for the History of
Emotions, in Berlin and is organized by Stephanie Olsen and Juliane Brauer.
Peter N. Stearns, Provost and Professor of History at George Mason University,
will give the keynote address.