Reinventing Childhood Nostalgia: Books, Toys, and Contemporary Media Culture, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reinventing Childhood Nostalgia

Books, Toys, and Contemporary Media Culture, 1st Edition

Edited by Elisabeth Wesseling


350 pages

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pub: 2017-09-13
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While Romantic-era concepts of childhood nostalgia have been understood as the desire to retrieve the ephemeral mindset of the child, this collection proposes that the emergence of digital media has altered this reflective gesture towards the past. No longer is childhood nostalgia reliant on individual memory. Rather, it is associated through contemporary convergence culture with the commodities of one's youth as they are recycled from one media platform to another. Essays in the volume's first section identify recurrent patterns in the recycling, adaptation, and remediation of children's toys and media, providing context for section two's exploration of childhood nostalgia in memorial practices. In these essays, the contributors suggest that childhood toys and media play a role in the construction of s the imagined communities (Benedict Anderson) that define nations and nationalism. Eschewing the dichotomy between restorative and reflexive nostalgia, the essays in section three address the ethics of nostalgia in terms of child agency and depictions of childhood. In a departure from the notion that childhood nostalgia is the exclusive prerogative of narrative fiction, section four looks for its traces in the child sciences. Pushing against nostalgia's persistent associations with wishful thinking, false memories, and distortion, this collection suggests nostalgia is never categorically good or bad in itself, but owes its benefits or defects to the ways in which it is brought to bear on the representation of children and childhood.

Table of Contents



List of Figures

Introduction, Elisabeth Wesseling

Part I: The Cultural Dynamics of Cross-Generational (Re-)appropriation

1 Historical Roots of Consumption-Based Nostalgia for Childhood in the US., Gary Cross

2 Nostalgia or Innovation? The Adaptation of Dutch Children’s Books into Films,

Helma van Lierop,

3 Superheroes and Identity: The Role of Nostalgia in Comic Book Culture, Carol Tilley

4 (Re-)Constructing Childhood Memories: Nostalgia, Creativity

and the Expanded Worlds of the Lego Fan Community, Lincoln Geraghty

Part II: Childhood Nostalgia and Memorial Politics

5 Nostalgic Panoramas of Childhood: Toy Objects in Ireland (1851-1909), Vanessa Rutherford

6 Making Children’s ‘Classics’: Making Past Childhoods Children’s ‘Classics’ as Sites for Memory Politics and Nostalgia, Helle Strandgaard Jensen

7 Propaganda and Nostalgia: Constructing Memories about the German Democratic Republic for Secondary School Children, Luke Springman

8 Communist Childhoods and Nostalgia: A Cultural Analysis of Online Remembrance Strategies (2006-2011), Codruta Pohrib

9 Lost in Nostalgia: Images of Childhood in Photo Books for Children,

Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer

Part III: Modalities of Nostalgia

10 Looking for Asymmetries: A Theoretical Approach to Childhood Nostalgia in Pre-Figurative Culture, Mariano Narodowski

11 Perverse Nostalgia: Child Sex Abuse as Trauma Commodity in Neo-Victorian Fiction,

Mel Kohlke

12 "Scared Straight" and Beyond: The Presumption of Teenaged Guilt and the Perpetuation of Defeated Paradigms, Joshua Garrison

13 Teenage Nostalgia: Perpetual Adolescents in Little Children (2006) and Young Adult (2011),

Anita Wohlmann

14 Ambivalent longings: Nostalgia in the Picturebooks of Pieter Gaudesaboos, Vanessa Joosen

15 Children’s Music and Nostalgia: Digging in the Past with an Eye to the Future,

Ingeborg Lunde Vestad

16 Happiness is Quite Common: Postmemory of the 1950s in De Daltons (1999-2010),

Elisabeth Wesseling

Part IV: Nostalgic Science

17 Comics, Childhood, and Nostalgia: Frederic Wertham and the Comic Book Panic of the 1950s, Andrew O’Malley

18 Back to Where We Came From: Evolutionary Psychology and Children’s Literature and Media, Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and Neil Cocks

Notes on Contributors



About the Editor

Elisabeth Wesseling is Director of the Centre for Gender and Diversity at Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

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 / Children's Literature
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comics & Graphic Novels