The Child Savage, 1890–2010: From Comics to Games, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Child Savage, 1890–2010

From Comics to Games, 1st Edition

Edited by Elisabeth Wesseling


258 pages

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Paperback: 9781138247284
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9781409455981
pub: 2016-03-16
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pub: 2016-12-05
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Taking up the understudied relationship between the cultural history of childhood and media studies, this volume traces twentieth-century migrations of the child-savage analogy from colonial into postcolonial discourse across a wide range of old and new media. Older and newer media such as films, textbooks, children's literature, periodicals, comic strips, children's radio, and toys are deeply implicated in each other through ongoing 'remediation', meaning that they continually mimic, absorb and transform each other's representational formats, stylistic features, and content. Media theory thus confronts the cultural history of childhood with the challenge of re-thinking change in childhood imaginaries as transformation-through-repetition patterns, rather than as rise-shine-decline sequences. This volume takes up this challenge, demonstrating that one historical epoch may well accommodate diverging childhood repertoires, which are recycled again and again as they are played out across a whole gamut of different media formats in the course of time.


"Many other recurring concepts crisscross this collection, including parent-lessness, morality and religion, and the adult construction of a nonexistent, nostalgic childhood. The breadth of media and nations covered makes this collection a persuasive and captivating addition to the field. Overall, Wesseling’s collection lives up to its goal to “demonstrate that the child-savage trope plays such a pivotal role in the cultural construction of childhood because it is central to the contradictory meanings that inhabit the construction of ‘the child’ in general”."

- Lisa Dusenberry, The Lion and the Unicorn.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Elisabeth Wesseling. Part I The Child Savage in (Neo-)Colonial Discourse: Technologies of power: school discourse in 19th-century Ireland, Vanessa Rutherford; Kipling’s Just So Stories: the recapitulative child and evolutionary progress, Ruth Murphy; Of savages and wild children: diverging representations of exotic peoples and young pranksters in comic strips from the Belle Époque, Pascal Lefèvre; Getting to know the other: Dutch children’s magazines and alterity (1890-1910), Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer; Africa in ritual practice and mythic consciousness in the Kulturfilm of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), Luke Springman; Childhood and primitivism: the impact of the négritude movement on avant-garde children’s literature, Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer. Part II Domestic Savages: Animals, angels, and Americans: remediating Dickensian melodrama in the comic strip Little Orphan Annie (1924-1945), Elisabeth Wesseling; The teenaged savage goes to Hollywood: G. Stanley Hall’s recapitulation theory and American exploitation cinema (1930-1945), Joshua Garrison; Listening with mother: the cultivation of children’s radio, Kate Lacey; Wild children and wicked journalists: the remediation of tabloid images of childhood in contemporary children’s literature, Vanessa Joosen. Part III Postcolonial Playgrounds: Representing violence, playing control: warring constructions of masculinity in action man toys (1960-1990), Jonathan Bignell; ’Back to that special time’: nostalgia and the remediation of children’s media in the adult world, Lincoln Geraghty; Otherwordly children: wild children, global crises, and the desire for redemption, Isabel Hoving. Index.

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.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature