In this introductory seminar, we will consider changing concepts of childhood and adolescence from a variety of cultures and historical periods. What do we mean by “childhood” or “adolescence” and what is at stake in these definitions? Drawing on literary, cinematic and philosophical texts, we examine various historical models of childhood, including the romantic child, the sinful child, the working child, the sacred child, the child as miniature adult, the developing child, and the child as radically other. As we do so, we will examine how our shifting—and often contradictory—conceptions of childhood both align and clash with the way children actually live. After considering key moments in the history of childhood, we will look at the ways in which age intersects with other dimensions of social experience: sex/ gender, race, class, nation, and religion. In addition, we consider what young people do, how they live their lives and imagine their futures, as illustrative of the ongoing development of society, including practices of professionals working with them. Finally we will look at childhood experiences that challenge the historically recent notion of a “protected” and “innocent” childhood: child sex, child labor, child soldiers and child criminals.
The class will examine the conceptual framework of critical childhood studies and its intersection with feminist theories, critical race theory and disability studies. We will examine how different institutions, discourses and systems shape how childhood is experienced: including family, school, the juvenile (in)justice system, media and consumer culture. While attending to the force of structural inequalities in cultural and economic arrangements, we don’t want to risk rendering children or adults invisible. Thus we will look at adults with whom children are in relationship, including parents, teachers, police, and counselors; and we will together build an archive of children and youth-generated materials that exist within our particular fields (education, sociology, women’s studies, critical psychology, urban planning, etc.) Finally, we will consider methodological and pedagogical strategies used by various researchers and practitioners working with rather than on or about children.
This is a private group. To join you must be a registered site member and request group membership.