We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Children's Table

Childhood Studies and the Humanities

Anna Mae Duane

Publication Year: 2013

Like the occupants of the children's table at a family dinner, scholars working in childhood studies can seem sidelined from the "adult" labor of humanities scholarship. The Children's Table brings together scholars from architecture, philosophy, law, and literary and cultural criticism to provide an overview of the innovative work being done in childhood studies—a transcript of what is being said at the children's table. Together, these scholars argue for rethinking the academic seating arrangement in a way that acknowledges the centrality of childhood to the work of the humanities.

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

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.1 KB)
pp. 2-5


pdf iconDownload PDF (51.2 KB)
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (79.0 KB)
pp. vii-viii

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. ...

read more

Introduction. The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.1 KB)
pp. 1-14

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. ...

read more

Part 1. Questioning the Autonomous Subject and Individual Rights

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.8 KB)
pp. 15-18

Childhood studies, a field designed to dismantle inaccurate and oft en destructive definitions of childhood, has yet to come up with a consensus on what we mean when we say “child” in the first place. If the child is socially constructed, as Philippe Ariès has argued, and as many of our contributors take as a given, ...

read more

The Prepolitical Child of Child-Centered Jurisprudence

pdf iconDownload PDF (150.9 KB)
pp. 19-37

Childhood studies scholarship has revealed that childhood, the category that holds, defines, and governs children, is to be a social construct contingent on time and place.1 While young children are, generally speaking, vulnerable and dependent, the length, contours, and extent of that dependency, as well as the assignment of children to dependency, ...

read more

Childhood of the Race: A Critical Race Theory Intervention into Childhood Studies

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.3 KB)
pp. 38-51

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 offense: 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. ...

read more

Childhood Studies and History: Catching a Culture in High Relief

pdf iconDownload PDF (138.8 KB)
pp. 52-67

“Childhood,” writes Joseph M. Hawes, “is where you catch a culture in high relief.”1 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 ...

read more

Childism: The Challenge of Childhood to Ethics and the Humanities

pdf iconDownload PDF (140.4 KB)
pp. 68-84

If the humanities focus in some way on “the human,” including its meanings, diversities, constructions, and possibilities, then it would be curious to neglect the third of human beings who happen to be under the age of eighteen. This situation would appear all the more peculiar if the humanities are charged, as many argue, ...

read more

Part 2. Recalibrating the Work of Discipline

pdf iconDownload PDF (76.7 KB)
pp. 85-88

This section explores the structures—literary, physical, and social—that adults set up to educate children. As childhood studies argues, educational theories inevitably reflect 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 configurations. ...

read more

“So Wicked”: Revisiting Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s Sentimental Racism through the Lens of the Child

pdf iconDownload PDF (137.8 KB)
pp. 89-104

After 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 American literary canon ...

read more

Minority/Majority: Childhood Studies and Antebellum American Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF (162.7 KB)
pp. 105-123

The field of antebellum American literature has been radically transformed over the last thirty years by spectacular projects of literary recovery that have in turn redefined the foundational texts of the discipline.1 A renewed interest in authorship and publication studies is currently reinvigorating the field.2 ...

read more

The Architectures of Childhood

pdf iconDownload PDF (323.4 KB)
pp. 124-144

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 focus on the child challenge or inform current approaches to the study of architecture? ...

read more

Part 3. Childhood Studies and the Queer Subject

pdf iconDownload PDF (75.7 KB)
pp. 145-148

This section occupies a fissure in childhood studies that the field 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. ...

read more

“I Was a Lesbian Child”: Queer Thoughts about Childhood Studies

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.9 KB)
pp. 149-166

On September 9, 1992, about a dozen members of the newly formed Lesbian Avengers, a “direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival 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 City schools, ...

read more

Trans(cending)gender through Childhood

pdf iconDownload PDF (146.4 KB)
pp. 167-182

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.1 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 ...

read more

Childhood Studies and Literary Adoption

pdf iconDownload PDF (140.7 KB)
pp. 183-198

Representations of adoption abound in nineteenth-century American fiction 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 field of childhood studies. ...

read more

Part 4. Childhood Studies: Theory, Practice, Pasts, and Futures

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.8 KB)
pp. 199-202

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, disciplinary exchange, and the academy’s role in larger culture and society. ...

read more

Childhood as Performance

pdf iconDownload PDF (121.3 KB)
pp. 203-212

The relationship between young people (“children”) and the cultural construct of “childhood” constitutes a central problem in the field of childhood studies.1 Is childhood a category of historical analysis that produces and manages adult power, as Caroline Levander, Lee Edelman, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Jacqueline Rose, ...

read more

In the Archives of Childhood

pdf iconDownload PDF (413.8 KB)
pp. 213-237

In this chapter I argue that the ideas, practices, and institutions of historical preservation reverberate with conceptions of childhood. I find these connections to be mutually illuminating, productive not only for the comparatively new field of childhood studies but also for the many disciplinary and institutional structures ...

read more

Doing Childhood Studies: The View from Within

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.0 KB)
pp. 238-254

After 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 particularly interesting; academics relocate frequently and for a host of reasons. Two things, however, made this move somewhat unusual: ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (62.3 KB)
pp. 255-258

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. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (458.2 KB)
pp. 259-265

E-ISBN-13: 9780820345598
E-ISBN-10: 0820345598
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820345215
Print-ISBN-10: 0820345210

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 9 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013