Nordic Childhoods 1700–1960: From Folk Beliefs to Pippi Longstocking, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nordic Childhoods 1700–1960

From Folk Beliefs to Pippi Longstocking, 1st Edition

Edited by Reidar Aasgaard, Marcia Bunge, Merethe Roos


368 pages

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pub: 2017-08-16
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This volume strengthens interest and research in the fields of both Childhood Studies and Nordic Studies by exploring conceptions of children and childhood in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). Although some books have been written about the history of childhood in these countries, few are multidisciplinary, focus on this region as a whole, or are available in English. This volume contains essays by scholars from the fields of literature, history, theology, religious studies, intellectual history, cultural studies, Scandinavian studies, education, music, and art history. Contributors study the history of childhood in a wide variety of sources, such as folk and fairy tales, legal codes, religious texts, essays on education, letters, sermons, speeches, hymns, paintings, novels, and school essays written by children themselves. They also examine texts intended specifically for children, including text books, catechisms, newspapers, songbooks, and children’s literature. By bringing together scholars from multiple disciplines who raise distinctive questions about childhood and take into account a wide range of sources, the book offers a fresh and substantive contribution to the history of childhood in the Nordic countries between 1700 and 1960. The volume also helps readers trace the historical roots of the internationally recognized practices and policies regarding child welfare within the Nordic countries today and prompts readers from any country to reflect on their own conceptions of and commitments to children.


"Nordic Childhoods 1700–1960: From Folk Beliefs to Pippi Longstocking is a rich and varied volume that seeks to unite insights from childhood studies and Nordic studies and make these accessible to an English-speaking audience….The book is an interesting, well-written, and sound contribution to the history of childhood."

-Helle Strandgaard Jensen, Aarhus University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Reidar Aasgaard and Marcia J. Bunge

Part 1. Spheres of life: home, church, and society

2. The child in Norwegian and Scandinavian folk beliefs Ørnulf Hodne

3. The household code: Protestant upbringing in Denmark-Norway from the Reformation to the Enlightenment Ingrid Markussen

4. "Let the little children come to me": representations of children in the confessional culture of Lutheran Norway (seventeenth-nineteenth centuries) Kristin B. Aavitsland

5. Education of children in rural Finland: the roles of homes, churches, and manor houses Anu Lahtinen

6. Children’s rights and duties: snapshots into the history of education and child protection in Denmark (ca. 1700–1900) Anette Faye Jacobsen

Part 2. Children’s development: formation, education, and work

7. "A plain and cheerful, active life on earth": children, education, and faith in the works of N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783–1872, Denmark) Marcia J. Bunge

8. "Educating poor, rich, and dangerous children": the birth of a segregated school system in nineteenth-century Sweden Bengt Sandin

9. The child in the early nineteenth century Norwegian school system Thor Inge Rørvik

10. Negotiating family, education, and labour: working-class children in Finland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Pirjo Markkola

11. Sheep, fish, and school: conflicting arenas of childhood in the lives of Icelandic children, 1900–1970 Ólöf Garðarsdóttir

12. Educational policy and boarding schools for indigenous Sami students in Norway from 1700 to the present day Hansen, Ketil Lenert

13. Children and their stories of World War II: a study of essays by Norwegian school children from 1946 Ellen Schrumpf

14. "In song we meet on common ground": conceptions of children in songbooks for Norwegian schools (1914–1964) Eiliv Olsen

Part 3. Literature: children’s books, fairy tales, and novels

15. Children, dying, and death: views from an eighteenth-century periodical for children Merethe Roos

16. Incandescent objects and pictures of misery: Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales for children Maria Tatar

17. Inventing subjectivity and the rights of the child in nineteenth-century Nordic children’s literature Olle Widhe

18. Competent children: childhoods in Nordic children’s literature from 1850 to 1960 Åse Marie Ommundsen

19. The small people in the big picture: children in Swedish working-class novels of the 1930s Karin Nykvist

About the Editors

Reidar Aasgaard is Professor of History of Ideas at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Marcia Bunge is Professor of Religion and Bernhardson Distinguished Chair at Gustavus Adolphus College, USA

Merethe Roos is Associate Professor of Education at Telemark University College, Norway.

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / Scandinavian
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Children's Studies