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

The Child Savage, 1890–2010
From Comics to Games

ISBN 9781138247284
Published September 6, 2016 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

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.

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.

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


"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.