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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Fall 2006

WGS 393 • Childhood and Youth: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
49793 TH
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
BUR 228
Mickenberg, J

Course Description

Children, childhood and youth serve as ready containers for a range of anxieties, values, and hopes, making them rich subjects for scholars of American culture and society. And the process of educating and socializing the young, what children are taught, how they are taught, and why they are taught one thing and not another distills fundamental social concerns and mores down to their essence. As one scholar has put it: "'the richest setting for discovering the rules of a society are those where novices of one sort or another are being instructed in appropriate behavior.'" The study of children, youth, education, and the discourses around them gives us basic insights into the ways in which gender, class, race and ethnicity are socialized; into the ways in which national identity is constructed and transmitted; into how consumer identities are created through marketing; into the social significance of "moral panics" over youth; and into the rationale for censorship and cultural control. This course will consider a range of classic and recent writing and scholarship on children, childhood, education, and childrens culture, paying special attention to the ways in which such works offers a basis for interdisciplinary inquiry such as that undertaken in American Studies. Although historically focused, our readings will encompass literary, educational, psychological, sociological, ethnographic, and cultural/media studies approaches, with particular focus upon gender and the formation of gender identities. The course is geared toward giving students a grasp of central readings and issues in the field of childhood studies while also offering the opportunity to undertake significant research, hopefully leading to a publishable piece of writing.

Grading Policy

Regular attendance and active participation in seminar Class presentation and preparation of discussion questions based on readings Report on one or two supplemental readings 5-7 page paper situating a primary source within its social and historical context Final paper, 15-20 pages, can take the form of a 3-book review essay charting general trends in the field; prospectus for a longer project; or expansion of the first paper.


Likely texts from which we'll draw (not all read in full): John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning the Education of Children Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile Carolyn Steedman, Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority Beverly Lyon Clark, Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Childrens Literature in America Gary Cross, Kids Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood John Dewey, The Child and the Curriculum David Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa Kenneth Kidd, Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls Peter Stearns, Anxious Parents: A History of Modern Childrearing in America Nicholas Sammond, Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child, 1930-1960 Ann Arnett Ferguson, Bad Boys: Schooling and the Making of Black Masculinity Henry Jenkins, The Childrens Culture Reader


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