Child Readers and the Limits of American Independence, 1640–1868
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Cover, Title Page, Copyright
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In writing about the limits of independence, I have been constantly reminded of my dependence on others. The intellectual contributions of this book would not have been possible without a trip to the American Antiquarian Society, where I held a short-term Reese fellowship on the History of the Book. I met many wonderful...
Introduction. From Subjects to Citizens: The Politics of Childhood and Children’s Literature
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In 1845, the prolific author and publisher Samuel Goodrich presented his readers with a new edition of the first children’s book that he had published, The Tales of Peter Parley about America. In his preface to this final revision, Goodrich looks back on the work’s reception and makes a compelling statement about children’s position...
1. Youth as a Time of Choice: Children’s Reading in Colonial New England
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Thoughts about children’s political identity in England and colonial America, especially in New England, were closely tied to changing notions of when religious belonging and church membership were thought to begin, since these were considered prerequisites to political participation. As patriarchal metaphors of subjects as children...
2. Affectionate Citizenship: Educating Child Readers for a New Nation
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In one of the first children’s storybooks to be published in the colonies, The Child’s New Play-Thing (1750), a child asks how he is to become a good man. The answer: he must learn to “love his book.” This lesson signaled a relatively new posture that child readers were asked to take, but by the end of the eighteenth century, “loving...
3. Child Readers of the Novel: The Problem of Childish Citizenship
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Because the affectionate citizenship of children was important in creating an entire population of citizens who understood the law as representative of their power, the child came to symbolize the (limited) liberty of citizens. Yet in Locke’s Two Treatises the child was also the foil to the citizen, necessary to mark his emancipation from...
4. Reading for Social Profit: Economic Citizenship as Children’s Citizenship
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In The Exhibition of Tom Thumb (1775, first American edition 1787), the proprietor of an imaginary collection of curiosities describes a “conjuring box” that transforms any object into “the very thing that it ought to have been.” The first object put into the box is a children’s book, probably The Exhibition itself, as the American...
5. Natural Citizenship: Children, Slaves, and the Book of Nature
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The debates about citizenship following the Civil War demonstrate the extent to which children’s citizenship—and citizenship in general—was still an unsettled issue in mid-nineteenth-century America. When the Fourteenth Amendment was being drafted, the committee argued that the first section of the amendment, the...
Conclusion. The Legacy of the Fourteenth Amendment: Limited Thinking on Children’s Citizenship
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A recent political cartoon by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Nick Anderson brings the historical periods that begin and end this book into the present day. The cartoon depicts a pilgrim family carrying an infant, and hiding in the bushes are two Native Americans in stereotypical dress, commenting “[expletive] Anchor...
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 9 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012