Early historyofchildrenslit


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Early historyofchildrenslit

  1. 1. Constructing Childhood: A Brief History of Early Children’s Literature in Western Civilization
  2. 2. What is “children’s literature?” What is “childhood?” Meaning of “childhood” is ideological—socially constructed, constantly evolving Books “for children” reflect dominant cultural ideals Reinforce ideas about behavior, morality, gender roles, class structure, etc.—shape reader Reflect ideological lens of writer, culture—not created in vacuum Image: Rosemary Adcock, “Orphan Series”
  3. 3. Analyze children’s literature in order to . . .  Uncover culture’s ideal views of “childhood”  Examine society’s concept of self  Interrogate individual author’s relationship to broader cultural contexts  Viewed across time, provides insight into our own concepts of childhood and “normalcy” Image: Arthur B. Houghton, Mother and Children Reading, 1860
  4. 4. The “Golden Age” of Children’s Literature Ideology of the nuclear family takes shape in early 19th century Home & family as haven in heartless world Source of stability in increasingly materialistic, fractious world Powerful “cult of childhood”—child as icon of “lost” innocence, emblematic of past golden age of humanity Tensions: hierarchies, gender, class, race, literary marketplace
  5. 5. What did “childhood” mean?Historical Highlights 400 years ago: children born in state of sin ; childhood reading about religious guidance, indoctrination 250-300 years ago: “invention of childhood” as modern concept; children’s minds “a blank slate”—fill with proper information—logical, didactic texts 200 years ago: children naturally innocent; moral compass to society—imaginative texts 40 years ago: children need to read about harsh realities of life
  6. 6. Protestantism & Roots of “ModernChildhood” (17th & early 18th centuries)  Ideal of universal literacy; importance of print culture  Children products of original sin; prepare for adult religious experience  Instructional books, conduct books  Primers: teach reading, but also turn innately sinful children into spiritual beings  Themes of death, damnation, conversion Image: From New England Primer, circa 1690
  7. 7. A little light bedtime reading . . . Popular reading for Protestant children: Book of Martyrs (1563); The Day of Doom (1662) Anti-Catholic account of “Bloody Mary” reign Poem of damnation of world Horrific scenes of violence, mutilation, murder Images: Thomas Foxe, Book of Martyrs, 1563; Michael Wigglesworth, The Day of Doom, 1662
  8. 8. The Enlightenment (late 17th, 18th centuries): Enter Modern Childhood John Locke (1632-1704) Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) Young mind as tabula rasa (blank slate) Children not burdened by original sin Logical beings awaiting proper education—rational writings Whole new construction of childhood —distinct phase of life Image: John Locke
  9. 9. 18th Century Groundbreakers John Newbery Bookseller/publisher Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) — first significant story book specifically for children Songs, poems, moral tales, illustrations Instruct AND entertain Image: John Newbery, Little Pretty Pocket Book, 1744
  10. 10. 18th Century Groundbreakers Jean-Jacques Rousseau Emile (1755)—Children should be raised in natural settings, free to imagine Children naturally innocent, moral – “The child is the father of the man” (Wordsworth) Books should free children’s imaginations Romantics influence writers of Golden Age Image: Jean-Jacques Rousseau