The Children's Table
Childhood Studies and the Humanities
Publication Year: 2013
The figure we now recognize as a child was created in tandem with forms of modernity that the Enlightenment generated and that the humanities are now working to rethink. Thus the growth of childhood studies allows for new approaches to some of the most important and provocative issues in humanities scholarship: the viability of the social contract, the definition of agency, the performance of identity, and the construction of gender, sexuality, and race. Because defining childhood is a means of defining and distributing power and obligation, studying childhood requires a radically altered approach to what constitutes knowledge about the human subject.
The diverse essays in The Children's Table share a unifying premise: to include the child in any field of study realigns the shape of that field, changing the terms of inquiry and forcing a different set of questions. Taken as a whole, the essays argue that, at this key moment in the state of the humanities, rethinking the child is both necessary and revolutionary.
Contributors: Annette Ruth Appell, Sophie Bell, Robin Bernstein, Sarah Chinn, Lesley Ginsberg, Lucia Hodgson, Susan Honeyman, Roy Kozlovsky, James Marten, Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Carol Singley, Lynne Vallone, John Wall.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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At times, editing this book did indeed feel like sitting at the children’s table—a bit chaotic perhaps, but a lot of fun, nonetheless. My goal was to create a collection that readers would experience as a lively conversation, and I was very fortunate to have such smart and dedicated interlocutors along the journey. It has been an enormous pleasure collaborating with such ...
Introduction. The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities
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As anyone who has attended a Thanksgiving dinner can attest, the children’s table is not usually an A- list destination. Denied the good china, seated at a wobbly folding table, placed out of earshot of the juicy adult gossip, the guests at the children’s table know that they occupy a marginal space. In many ways, the children’s table is an apt metaphor for the role childhood ...
Part 1. Questioning the Autonomous Subject and Individual Rights
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Childhood studies, a fi eld designed to dismantle inaccurate and oft en de-structive defi nitions of childhood, has yet to come up with a consensus on what we mean when we say “child” in the fi rst place. If the child is socially constructed, as Philippe Ariès has argued, and as many of our contributors take as a given, how can we possibly hope to work through those construc-...
The Prepolitical Child of Child-Centered Jurisprudence
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Childhood studies scholarship has revealed that childhood, the category that holds, defi nes, and governs children, is to be a social construct contin-gent on time and place. While young children are, generally speaking, vul-nerable and dependent, the length, contours, and extent of that dependency, as well as the assignment of children to dependency, vary greatly across ...
Childhood of the Race: A Critical Race Theory Intervention into Childhood Studies
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The popular defense of processing children under eighteen in the adult criminal justice system instead of the juvenile justice system turns on the nature of the off ense: children who commit adult crimes should do adult time. This position highlights the ways in which American cultural con-structions of the child are not exclusively child based. That is to say, adult ...
Childhood Studies and History: Catching a Culture in High Relief
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...“Childhood,” writes Joseph M. Hawes, “is where you catch a culture in high relief.” This deceptively simple statement reveals the possibilities created by the merger of childhood studies and history. Although children and youth do not make laws, declare wars, manage corporations, or write books and plays—although they do not feature in traditional measures of progress—...
Childism: The Challenge of Childhood to Ethics and the Humanities
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If the humanities focus in some way on “the human,” including its mean-ings, diversities, constructions, and possibilities, then it would be curious to neglect the third of human beings who happen to be under the age of eigh-teen. This situation would appear all the more peculiar if the humanities are charged, as many argue, with challenging normative assumptions and ...
Part 2. Recalibrating the Work of Discipline
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This section explores the structures—literary, physical, and social—that adults set up to educate children. As childhood studies argues, educational theories inevitably refl ect adult desires about what children should become. Those desires in turn, exert a powerful force on the lives of children raised within these imaginative, legal, and literary confi gurations. The chapters ...
“So Wicked”: Revisiting Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s Sentimental Racism through the Lens of the Child
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Aft er decades of critical skepticism, studies of both sentimentalism and childhood are becoming thriving areas of scholarly inquiry and analysis. In Hildegard Hoeller’s recent assessment, the study of sentiment is “cooking on all burners,” having overcome a century of marginality in the Ameri-can literary canon to become a nimbly theorized, richly interdisciplinary ...
Minority/Majority: Childhood Studies and Antebellum American Literature
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The fi eld of antebellum American literature has been radically transformed over the last thirty years by spectacular projects of literary recovery that have in turn redefi ned the foundational texts of the discipline. A renewed interest in authorship and publication studies is currently reinvigorating the fi eld. Further, a turn toward the transnational has highlighted trans-...
The Architectures of Childhood
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The metaphor of the “children’s table” alludes to the familiar architecture of the everyday, where the ambiguous status of the child is literally inscribed into the choreography of domestic space. How then does the scholarly fo-cus on the child challenge or inform current approaches to the study of architecture? And conversely, what can the study of the material culture of ...
Part 3. Childhood Studies and the Queer Subject
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This section occupies a fi ssure in childhood studies that the fi eld is working to bridge between social constructionism—a central insight of childhood studies icon Philippe Ariès and a key tenet of humanities scholarship—and social science’s emphasis on biologically determined development. Our fi rst two contributions by Sarah Chinn and Susan Honeyman pick up the theme ...
“I Was a Lesbian Child”: Queer Thoughts about Childhood Studies
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On September 9, 1992, about a dozen members of the newly formed Les-bian Avengers, a “direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian sur-vival and visibility,” gathered outside the entrance to an elementary school in Queens, New York, School District 24. Over the course of that summer debate had raged about the proposed “Rainbow curriculum” for New York ...
Trans(cending)gender through Childhood
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If one is not born a woman, as Simone de Beauvoir and Monique Wittig so famously argue, then one is not really born a girl or boy either. In fact, one is not necessarily born a child. Ever since Philippe Ariès posited childhood as an invention of modernity, childhood studies has argued for recognizing the state of prolonged protection (and sometimes fetishization) generally ...
Childhood Studies and Literary Adoption
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Representations of adoption abound in nineteenth- century American fi c-tion and have much to tell us not only about formal aspects of plot but also about the construction of cultural narratives of the child, family, and nation—all important sites of inquiry for the fi eld of childhood studies. This chapter explores the ways that childhood studies can affi rm the im-...
Part 4. Childhood Studies: Theory, Practice, Pasts, and Futures
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This section thinks critically about how childhood shapes our relationship with the past—personal, cultural, historical—and considers some ways in which the study of children may shape the future of classroom behavior, disci-plinary exchange, and the academy’s role in larger culture and society. Robin Bernstein’s chapter off ers an exciting theoretical model for bridging the gap ...
Childhood as Performance
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The relationship between young people (“children”) and the cultural con-struct of “childhood” constitutes a central problem in the fi eld of childhood studies. Is childhood a category of historical analysis that produces and manages adult power, as Caroline Levander, Lee Edelman, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Jacqueline Rose, James Kincaid, Anne Higonnet, Carolyn Steed-...
In the Archives of Childhood
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In this chapter I argue that the ideas, practices, and institutions of historical preservation reverberate with conceptions of childhood. I fi nd these con-nections to be mutually illuminating, productive not only for the compara-tively new fi eld of childhood studies but also for the many disciplinary and institutional structures through which we have tried to locate origins and to ...
Doing Childhood Studies: The View from Within
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Aft er seventeen years at a university in central Texas, I accepted a position in southern New Jersey. This fact is not so very surprising or even particu-larly interesting; academics relocate frequently and for a host of reasons. Two things, however, made this move somewhat unusual: I left a conven-tional, well- established discipline at the center of liberal arts curricula—...
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Annette Ruth Appell is a professor of law at Washington University Law School, where she previously served as the inaugural associate dean of clinical education. Her research centers on childhood, motherhood, and nontraditional families and explores themes of belonging, authority, legitimacy, and connection. ...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 9 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013