what assumptions would we have to uncover  to find discourses about children and childhood in litery textswhat assumptions would we have to uncover  to find discourses about children and...

what assumptions would we have to uncover  to find discourses about children and childhood in litery texts

what assumptions would we have to uncover  to find discourses about children and childhood in litery texts

Asked on by susan139

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clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If you are looking for discourses about children and childhood in literary texts, you might start with stories actually written for children. They would tend to reflect the contemporaneous assumptions of the time during which they were written. For instance, in the case of fairy tales, many were stories that were cautionary stories designed to direct children's behavior into culturally acceptable norms for the time they were written.  In children's literature, the things children do and act out in the stories will often reflect adults' ideas about how children should behave rather than how they actually do behave.

Even in stories that do not necessarily have children as protagonists, the cultural assumptions about childhood would be present in the particular text. The reader would have to read carefully and extrapolate from clues left by the author.

And, of course, assumptions about childhood and children have changed over the centuries and continue to change. Childhood was not considered an especially important time when, during the Middle Ages, for instance, children didn't have as much of a chance to grow up to adulthood as they do today. Childhood was to be endured; one did not get close to one's children, as they might be taken by illness without a warning.

Our culture prioritizes childhood in a way that many other cultures do not, and it is certainly demonstrated in our literature.

I love this answer.

My first thought in reading your question was to read author's memoirs.  It seems most writers who take the time to write autobiographically - tend to go back as far as childhood.  (Some, in fact, make it the focus.)  I think the underlying assumption there is that it really is our childhood years that end up forming us and who we become.

Even though I think many would agree that some of the biggest lessons in life can be learned at ANY AGE, it seems most people attempt to escape their childhood at some point - and then look back and realize that it is exactly what made them who they are.

sensei918's profile pic

sensei918 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

If you are looking for discourses about children and childhood in literary texts, you might start with stories actually written for children. They would tend to reflect the contemporaneous assumptions of the time during which they were written. For instance, in the case of fairy tales, many were stories that were cautionary stories designed to direct children's behavior into culturally acceptable norms for the time they were written.  In children's literature, the things children do and act out in the stories will often reflect adults' ideas about how children should behave rather than how they actually do behave.

Even in stories that do not necessarily have children as protagonists, the cultural assumptions about childhood would be present in the particular text. The reader would have to read carefully and extrapolate from clues left by the author.

And, of course, assumptions about childhood and children have changed over the centuries and continue to change. Childhood was not considered an especially important time when, during the Middle Ages, for instance, children didn't have as much of a chance to grow up to adulthood as they do today. Childhood was to be endured; one did not get close to one's children, as they might be taken by illness without a warning.

Our culture prioritizes childhood in a way that many other cultures do not, and it is certainly demonstrated in our literature.

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