Literary Cultures and Twentieth-Century Childhoods

Conrad, Rachel and L. Brown Kennedy, Co-Editors. Literary Cultures and Twentieth-Century Childhoods, Volume 4 in Literary Cultures and Childhoods series. Palgrave, 2020.

This collection of essays offers innovative methodological and disciplinary approaches to the intersection of Anglophone literary cultures with children and childhoods across the twentieth century. In two acts of re-centering, the volume focuses both on the multiplicity of childhoods and literary cultures and on child agency. Looking at classic texts for young audiences and at less widely-read and unpublished material (across genres including poetry, fiction, historical fiction or biography, picturebooks, and children’s television), essays foreground the representation of child voices and subjectivities within texts, explore challenges to received notions of childhood, and emphasize the role of child-oriented texts in larger cultural and political projects. Chapters frame themes of spectacle, self, and specularity across the twentieth-century; question tropes of childhood; explore identity and displacement in narrating history and culture; and elevate children as makers of literary culture. A major intent of the volume is to approach literary culture not just as produced by adults for consumption by children but also as co-created by young people through their actions as speakers, artists, readers, and writers.

*Received Edited Book Honor Award from the Children’s Literature Association for the 2022 Outstanding Book of Literary Criticism in Children’s Literature.