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Literature and the Child Cover

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Literature and the Child

Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations

The Romantic myth of childhood as a transhistorical holy time of innocence and spirituality, uncorrupted by the adult world, has been subjected in recent years to increasingly serious interrogation. Was there ever really a time when mythic ideals were simple, pure, and uncomplicated? The contributors to this book contend—although in widely differing ways and not always approvingly—that our culture is indeed still pervaded, in this postmodern moment of the very late twentieth century, by the Romantic conception of childhood which first emerged two hundred years ago.

In the wake of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, western Europe experienced another fin de siècle characterized by overwhelming material and institutional change and instability. By historicizing the specific political, social, and economic conflicts at work within the notion of Romantic childhood, the essayists in Literature and the Child show us how little these forces have changed over time and how enriching and empowering they can still be for children and their parents.

Negotiating the Livelihoods of Children and Youth in Africaís Urban Spaces Cover

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Negotiating the Livelihoods of Children and Youth in Africaís Urban Spaces

This book deals with problems facing children and youth in African cities today. African populations have high growth rates and, consequently, relatively high proportions of young people. Population growth in rural areas has stretched resources leading to urban migration and a rapid growth of cities. Economies have not grown apace with the population; and in some countries, economies have even shrunk. The result is a severe lack of resources in cities to meet the needs of the growing populations, shown in high unemployment, inadequate housing, poor services, and often extreme poverty. All the essays in this book draw attention to such urban environments, in which children and youth have to live and survive. The title of this book speaks of negotiating livelihoods. The concept of ëlivelihoodí has been adopted to incorporate the social and physical environment together with peopleís responses to it. It considers not only material, but also human and social resources, including local knowledge and understanding. It, thus, considers the material means for living in a broader context of social and cultural interpretation. It, therefore, does not deal only with material and economic existence, but also with leisure activities, entertainments and other social forms of life developed by young people in response to the dictates of the environment. The book contains country-specific case studies of the problems faced by youths in many African cities, how they develop means to solve them, and the various creative ways through which they improve their status, both economically and socially, in the different urban spaces. It recognizes the potentials of young people in taking control of their lives within the constraints imposed upon them by the society. This book is a valuable contribution to the field of child and youth development, and a useful tool for parents, teachers, academics, researchers as well as government and non government development agencies.

Not in Front of the Children Cover

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Not in Front of the Children

' Indecency,' Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth, Second Edition

with a new introduction by Marjorie Heins

From Huckleberry Finn to Harry Potter, from Internet filters to the v-chip, censorship exercised on behalf of children and adolescents is often based on the assumption that they must be protected from "indecent" information that might harm their developmentùwhether in art, in literature, or on a Web site. But where does this assumption come from, and is it true? In Not in Front of the Children, Marjorie Heins explores the fascinating history of "indecency" laws and other restrictions aimed at protecting youth. From Plato's argument for rigid censorship, through Victorian laws aimed at repressing libidinous thoughts, to contemporary battles over sex education in public schools and violence in the media, Heins guides us through what became, and remains, an ideological minefield. With fascinating examples drawn from around the globe, she suggests that the "harm to minors" argument rests on shaky foundations. There is an urgent need for informed, dispassionate debate about the perceived conflict between the free-expression rights of young people and the widespread urge to shield them from expression that is considered harmful. Not in Front of the Children spurs this long-needed conversation.

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Pleasures and Perils

GirlsÆ Sexuality in a Caribbean Consumer Culture

Debra Curtis

Pleasures and Perils follows a group of young girls living on Nevis, an island society in the Eastern Caribbean. In this provocative ethnography, Debra Curtis examines their sexuality in gripping detail: why do Nevisian girls engage in sexual activity at such young ages? Where is the line between coercion and consent? How does a desire for wealth affect a girl's sexual practices?Curtis shows that girls are often caught between conflicting discourses of Christian teachings about chastity, public health cautions about safe sex, and media enticements about consumer delights. Sexuality's contradictions are exposed: power and powerless¡ness, self-determination and cultural control, violence and pleasure. Pleasures and Perils illuminates the methodological and ethical issues anthropologists face when they conduct research on sex, especially among girls. The sexually explicit narratives conveyed in this book challenge not only the reader's own thoughts on sexuality but also the broader limits and possibilities of ethnography.A volume in the Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner

Raising Your Kids Right Cover

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Raising Your Kids Right

Children's Literature and American Political Conservatism

Michelle Ann Abate

Highlighting the works of William Bennett, Lynne Cheney, Bill O'Reilly, and others on the American political right, Michelle Ann Abate brings together such diverse fields as cultural studies, literary criticism, political science, childhood studies, brand marketing, and the cult of celebrity. Raising Your Kids Right dispels lingering societal attitudes that narratives for young readers are unworthy of serious political study by examining a variety of texts that offer information, ideology, and even instructions on how to raise kids right, not just figuratively but politically.

Recess Battles Cover

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Recess Battles

Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling

As children wrestle with culture through their games, recess itself has become a battleground for the control of children's time. Based on dozens of interviews and the observation of over a thousand children in a racially integrated, working-class public school, ecess Battles is a moving reflection of urban childhood at the turn of the millennium. The book debunks myths about recess violence and challenges the notion that schoolyard play is a waste of time. The author videotaped and recorded children of the Mill School in Philadelphia from 1991 to 2004 and asked them to offer comments as they watched themselves at play. These sessions in Recess Battles raise questions about adult power and the changing frames of class, race, ethnicity, and gender. The grown-ups' clear misunderstanding of the complexity of children's play is contrasted with the richness of the children's folk traditions.Recess Battles is an ethnographic study of lighthearted games, a celebratory presentation of children's folklore and its conflicts, and a philosophical text concerning the ironies of everyday childhood. Rooted in video micro-ethnography and the traditions of theorists such as Bourdieu, Willis, and Bateson, Recess Battles is written for a lay audience with extensive academic footnotes. International scholar Dr. Brian Sutton-Smith contributes a foreword, and the children themselves illustrate the text with black and white paintings.

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Rethinking Childhood

Edited by Peter B. Pufall and Richard P. Unsworth

Being a child in American society can be problematic. Twenty percent of American children live in poverty, parents are divorcing at high rates, and educational institutions are not always fulfilling their goals. Against this backdrop, children are often patronized or idealized by adults. Rarely do we look for the strengths within children that can serve as the foundation for growth and development. In Rethinking Childhood, twenty contributors, coming from the disciplines of anthropology, government, law, psychology, education, religion, philosophy, and sociology, provide a multidisciplinary view of childhood by listening and understanding the ways children shape their own futures. Topics include education, poverty, family life, divorce, neighborhood life, sports, the internet, and legal status. In all these areas, children have both voice and agency. They construct their own social networks and social reality, sort out their own values, and assess and cope with the perplexing world around them. The contributors present ideas that lead not only to new analyses but also to innovative policy applications. 

Taken together, these essays develop a new paradigm for understanding childhood as children experience these years. This paradigm challenges readers to develop fresh ways of listening to children’s voices that enable both children and adults to cross the barriers of age, experience, and stereotyping that make communication difficult.

A volume in the Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner.

Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work Cover

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Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work

Michael F. C. Bourdillon, Deborah Levison, William E. Myers, and Ben White

Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work, a groundbreaking book authored by an interdisciplinary team of experts, incorporates recent theoretical advances and experiences to explore the place of labor in children's lives and development. It condemns the exploitation and abuse of child workers and supports the right of all children to the best quality, free education that society can afford. At the same time, the authors recognize the value, and sometimes the necessity, of work in growing up, and the reality that a "workless" childhood, without responsibilities, is not good preparation for adult life in any environment.

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Risky Lessons

Sex Education and Social Inequality

Jessica Fields

Curricula in U.S. public schools are often the focus of heated debate, and few subjects spark more controversy than sex education. While conservatives argue that sexual abstinence should be the only message, liberals counter that an approach that provides comprehensive instruction and helps young people avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy is necessary. Caught in the middle are the students and teachers whose everyday experiences of sex education are seldom as clear-cut as either side of the debate suggests. Risky Lessons brings readers inside three North Carolina middle schools to show how students and teachers support and subvert the official curriculum through their questions, choices, viewpoints, and reactions. Most important, the book highlights how sex education's formal and informal lessons reflect and reinforce gender, race, and class inequalities. Ultimately critical of both conservative and liberal approaches, Fields argues for curricula that promote social and sexual justice. Sex education's aim need not be limited to reducing the risk of adolescent pregnancies, disease, and sexual activity. Rather, its lessons should help young people to recognize and contend with sexual desires, power, and inequalities.

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Statism, Youth and Civic Imagination

A Critical Study of the National Youth Service Corps Programme in Nigeria

This study explores the service-citizenship nexus in Nigeria, using the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme as an empirical backdrop. It attempts to understand the relationship between civic service and citizenship on the one hand, and it examines the question as to whether youth service promotes a sense of citizenship and patriotism on the other. In the relevant studies on service and sociology, the assumption that service is antecedent to, and impacts positively on citizenship, is taken for granted. However, conclusions from this study call for an urgent rethinking of this wisdom. Using data from open-ended interviews, questionnaires and focus group discussions, the study traces the ways in which political dynamics in Nigeria have affected the implementation of the NYSC programme. The study articulates allegiance to national ideals as an essential foundation for creating and nurturing citizenship. Although it upholds the potential of national service as a tool for national integration, this research cautions against unalloyed faith in its presumed agency, arguing that the limitations imposed by the prevailing socio-political ecology should not be ignored.

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