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Historical Materialist Perspectives on Children’s Literature
A significant body of scholarship examines the production of children's literature by women and minorities, as well as the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. But few scholars have previously analyzed class in children's literature. This definitive collection remedies that by defining and exemplifying historical materialist approaches to children's literature. The introduction of Little Red Readings lucidly discusses characteristics of historical materialism, the methodological approach to the study of literature and culture first outlined by Karl Marx, defining key concepts and analyzing factors that have marginalized this tradition, particularly in the United States.
The thirteen essays here analyze a wide range of texts--from children's bibles to Mary Poppins to The Hunger Games--using concepts in historical materialism from class struggle to the commodity. Essayists apply the work of Marxist theorists such as Ernst Bloch and Fredric Jameson to children's literature and film. Others examine the work of leftist writers in India, Germany, England, and the United States.
The authors argue that historical materialist methodology is critical to the study of children's literature, as children often suffer most from inequality. Some of the critics in this collection reveal the ways that literature for children often functions to naturalize capitalist economic and social relations. Other critics champion literature that reveals to readers the construction of social reality and point to texts that enable an understanding of the role ordinary people might play in creating a more just future. The collection adds substantially to our understanding of the political and class character of children's literature worldwide, and contributes to the development of a radical history of children's literature.
Siam's Twins in Nineteenth-Century America
Connected at the chest by a band of flesh, Chang and Eng Bunker toured the United States and the world from the 1820s to the 1870s, placing themselves and their extraordinary bodies on exhibit as "freaks of nature" and "Oriental curiosities." Orser chronicles the twins' history, their sometimes raucous journey through antebellum America, their domestic lives in North Carolina, and what their fame revealed about the changing racial and cultural landscape of the United States. More than a biography of the twins, the result is a study of nineteenth-century American culture and society through the prism of Chang and Eng that reveals how Americans projected onto the twins their own hopes and fears.
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.
' Indecency,' Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth, Second Edition
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.
History books often weave tales of rising and falling empires, royal dynasties, and wars among powerful nations. Here, Maksudyan succeeds in making those who are farthest removed from power the lead actors in this history. Focusing on orphans and destitute youth of the late Ottoman Empire, the author gives voice to those children who have long been neglected. Their experiences and perspectives shed new light on many significant developments of the late Ottoman period, providing an alternative narrative that recognizes children as historical agents. Maksudyan takes the reader from the intimate world of infant foundlings to the larger international context of missionary orphanages, all while focusing on Ottoman modernization, urbanization, citizenship, and the maintenance of order and security. Drawing upon archival records, she explores the ways in which the treatment of orphans intersected with welfare, labor, and state building in the Empire. Throughout the book, Maksudyan does not lose sight of her lead actors, and the influence of the children is always present if we simply listen and notice carefully as Maksudyan so convincingly argues.
GirlsÆ Sexuality in a Caribbean Consumer Culture
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
The Making of Virtuosos
Children's Literature and American Political Conservatism
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.
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.
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.