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WHY LITTLE THINKERS ARE A BIG DEAL: THE RELEVANCE OF CHILDHOOD STUDIES TO INTELLECTUAL HISTORY

  • CORINNE T. FIELD (a1)
Extract

Why should intellectual historians care about children? Until recently, the answer was that adults’ ideas about children matter, particularly for the history of education and the history of conceptions of the family, but children's ideas are of little significance. Beginning with Philippe Ariès in the 1960s, historians took to exploring how and why adults’ ideas about children changed over time. In these early histories of childhood, young people figured as consumers of culture and objects of socialization, but not as producers or even conduits of ideas.

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1 Ariès, Philippe, Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life, trans. Baldick, Robert (New York, 1962; first published 1960).

2 James, Allison, “Interdisciplinarity—For Better or Worse,” Children's Geographies, 8/2 (May 2010), 215–16.

3 See the pathbreaking essays in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 1/1 (Winter 2008).

4 Sánchez-Eppler, Karen, “In the Archives of Childhood,” in Duane, Anna Mae, ed., The Children's Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities (Athens, GA, 2013), 213–37.

5 James Marten, “Childhood Studies and History: Catching a Culture in High Relief,” in Duane, The Children's Table, 52–67.

6 Stearns, Peter N., “Challenges in the History of Childhood,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 1/1 (Winter 2008), 3542, at 35.

7 Lesley Ginsberg, “Minority/Majority: Childhood Studies and Antebellum American Literature,” in Duane, The Children's Table, 105–23.

8 Field, Corinne T., The Struggle for Equal Adulthood: Gender, Race, Age, and the Fight for Citizenship in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill, 2014); Isenberg, Nancy, Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill, 1998), 23–4.

9 Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, 1983).

10 Brewer, Holly, By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority (Chapel Hill, 2005); Grossberg, Michael, “Children and the Law in the United States: A Historical Overview,” in Fass, Paula, ed., Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society (New York, 2004), 539–46; Fliegelman, Jay, Prodigals and Pilgrims: The American Revolution against Patriarchal Authority, 1750–1800 (Cambridge, 1982); Brown, Gillian, The Consent of the Governed: The Lockean Legacy in Early American Culture (Cambridge, MA, 2001).

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Modern Intellectual History
  • ISSN: 1479-2443
  • EISSN: 1479-2451
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-intellectual-history
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