We begin our sixth year with a rich array of essays that take us from sixteenth century hornbooks to Danish children’s television and contemporary youth in Saudi Arabia. With additional essays on the Cape of Good Hope, France, and the southern United States, this issue continues our effort to bring a global perspective to the history of childhood and youth.
Merridee Bailey’s object lesson essay begins this issue by explaining how hornbooks were used to teach children basic literacy through lessons on the alphabet or short religious passages. Starting in the sixteenth century, these hornbooks became some of the earliest instructional texts in the English-speaking world. An early eighteenth century text, Peter Kolb’s Caput Bonae Spei Hodiernum (“The Cape of Good Hope Today,” 1719) is the focal point for Anne Good’s analysis of Khoikhoi childhood as seen through the eyes of Dutch colonists on the Cape of Good Hope. Good’s close reading interrogates Kolb’s text for information on Khoikhoi practices of childbirth, infant care, and acculturation. Of course, Kolb’s text is not neutral—it reflects his perspective as a Dutch colonist while providing evidence of the impact of colonization on Khoikhoi children.
Chris Brickell’s essay critically contextualizes the construction of adolescence in New Zealand during the early twentieth century. Using case records from the Otekaieke Special School and the Girls’ Training Centre at Burwood, Brickell considers how these records of “problem” children serve as a point of contact with these individuals, even as these documents are used to construct adolescence as a normative category.
Emily Machen’s essay also grapples with the construction of youth, as she explores the effort to create the “Modern Protestant Girl” by Young Women’s Christian Unions in turn-of the-century France. These groups promoted democracy, freedom, and equality for women within the Protestant community at a time when the Catholic church in France did not share the same values regarding women. These Unions allowed French girls to have more of a voice. [End Page 1] Giving children a voice in the public media is the subject of Helle Strandgaard Jensen’s essay on the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s new Children and Youth Department in the 1960s. In trying to make television a “spokesperson” for children, the Children and Youth Department helped construct an identity for Danish children and youth that was independent of adults.
As Americans try to come to terms with another horrifying school shooting, Janis de la Mer offers a valuable historical perspective on school violence in early America. De la Mer examines the practice of “barring out” in the American south, where school children would lock out their teacher and demand treats, an extended holiday, or both in exchange for control of the schoolhouse. In the region that de la Mer investigates, codes of honor and retribution for harsh treatment fostered the escalation of these events into often violent physical conflicts between student and teacher. As de la Mer notes, resisting imposed authority was a respected trait in these Southern communities. Julie de Jong and Mansoor Moaddel examine a different form of resistance in their essay on the Arab Spring. By comparing surveys of social values from 2003 and 2011, de Jong and Moaddel bring empirical data to the question of the role that Saudi youth played in the greater acceptance of individualism, democracy, gender equality, and national identity over religious identity. [End Page 2]