1st Edition

Childhood, Literature and Science Fragile Subjects

    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    260 Pages
    by Routledge

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    How do we understand, imagine and remember childhood? In what ways do cultural representations and scientific discourses meet in their ways of portraying children?

    Childhood, Literature and Science aims to answer these questions by tracing how images of childhood(s) and children in Western modernity are entangled with notions of innocence and fragility, but also with sin and evilness. Indeed, this interdisciplinary collection investigates how different child figures emerge or disappear in imaginative and social representations, in the memories of adult selves, and in expert knowledge. Questions about childhood in Western modernity, culture and science are also addressed through insightful analysis of a variety of materials from the Enlightenment age to the present day – such as fiction, life narratives, visual images, scientific texts and public writings.

    Analysing childhood as a discursive construction, Childhood, Literature and Science will appeal to scholars as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in fields such as: Childhood Studies, History, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Literature and Sociology of the Family.

    INTRODUCTION: Child Figures as Fragile Subjects

    Jutta Ahlbeck, Päivi Lappalainen, Kati Launis and Kirsi Tuohela

    PART I: The Ideal and Subversive Child

    Päivi Lappalainen: Child Figures in Läsning för barn by Zacharias Topelius

    Maria Laakso: The Naughty Child in the Early Twentieth Century: Subversive Child Figures and Humor in Jalmari Finne’s Children’s Literature

    Jenniliisa Salminen: Child Adults in Soviet Children’s Literature – Lazar Lagin’s The Old Man Hottabych

    PART II: The "Normal" Child

    Kati Launis: The Birth of the Modern Child in Finnish Literary Realism

    Karin Zetterqvist Nelson: The Changing Construction of the Child Figure in Literature on Child Psychotherapy in Sweden 1945–1975

    Shaul Bar-Haim: The Child's "Position": The Concept of Childhood in Interwar Psychoanalysis

    PART III: The Sick and Disabled Child

    Maria Nikolajeva: Visible, Audible and Sentient: Cognitive-Affective Engagement with Disability in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction

    Leticia Fernández-Fontecha: Little Patients: Photography and the Configuration of the Sick Child in Victorian Britain

    Karen Lowton: The End of the ‘Experiment’: Positioning Children with Severe Liver Disease as Potential Survivors of Pioneering Liver Transplantation

    Sarah Hardstaff: "With special obligations": Constructions of Young Adulthood and Caregiving in The Road to Memphis and Seventeen Against the Dealer

    PART IV: The Evil and Victimised Child

    Eleanor F W Betts: Victim, Monster, Child or Murderer? Representations of Children Who Killed in Nineteenth-Century Newspapers

    Jutta Ahlbeck: The Nervous Child and the Disease of Modernity

    Ewa Maciejewska-Mroczek & Magdalena Radkowska-Walkowicz: Between Monster Child and Innocent Baby: Mana


    Jutta Ahlbeck is a sociologist and Senior Researcher at the Department of Culture, History and Philosophy at Åbo Akademi University, Finland

    Päivi Lappalainen is Professor of Finnish Literature at the University of Turku, Finland

    Kati Launis is Adjunct Professor of Finnish Literature at the University of Turku, Finland

    Kirsi Tuohela is Adjunct Professor of Cultural History at the University
    of Turku, Finland

    Childhood, Literature, and Science convincingly points to the variety of ways in which children and childhood are something highly evasive, multifaceted, and dependent upon time, space, and the available assortment of discursive categories. This impressive compilation of studies from scholars in the humanities and social sciences gives us new important insights of childhood, and contributes to the interdisciplinary field of Childhood Studies.

    By stretching the analyses from the Enlightenment until the present day, across science, literature, life writings, and social policy, a complex narrative of western childhood is unfolded. Authors examine children’s literature, psychological testing situations, media debates on children who commit crimes, debates on reproductive technologies, autobiographical fiction, photographs of child patients, and much more, and the reader will be highly rewarded. It becomes clear that the category we in our everyday lives call ‘children’ carries many different meanings and ‘layers’. This volume also gives us a badly-needed readiness for action as citizens. As the editors write: "The notion of childhood is always, at the same time, a notion of adulthood".

    Mats Börjesson, Professor and Director of the Section for Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden

    The rich essays collected in Childhood, Literature, and Science demonstrate that research grounded in language analysis and literary criticism has become indispensable for historicising our sense of childhood and youth. The discourses of childhood cannot be captured with essentialist dualisms between purity/innocence and order/discipline, any more than the figures of childhood will come into focus by repeating the obvious truth that childhood is culturally constructed. Readers seeking something more robust will find within these pages thick descriptions and close readings of ideal, subversive, normal, sick, transformative, e