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A History of Childhood: Children and Childhood in the West from Medieval to Modern Times

A History of Childhood: Children and Childhood in the West from Medieval to Modern Times

Colin Heywood

ISBN: 978-0-745-65681-6

May 2013, Polity

240 pages

$23.99

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Description

In this lively and accessible book, Colin Heywood explores the changing experiences and perceptions of childhood from the early Middle Ages to the beginning of the twentieth century. Heywood examines the different ways in which people have thought about childhood as a stage of life, the relationships of children with their families and peers, and the experiences of young people at work, in school and at the hands of various welfare institutions. The aim is to place the history of children and childhood firmly in its social and cultural context, without losing sight of the many individual experiences that have come down to us in diaries, autobiographies and oral testimonies.

Heywood argues that there is a cruel paradox at the heart of childhood in the past. On the one hand, material conditions for children have generally improved in the West, however belatedly and unevenly, and they are now more valued than in the past. On the other hand, the business of preparing for adulthood has become more complicated in urban and industrial societies, as the young face a bewildering array of choices and expectations.

A History of Childhood will be an essential introduction to the subject for students of history, the social sciences and cultural studies.

Acknowledgements vi

Introduction 1

Part I: Changing Conceptions of Childhood 9

1 Conceptions of Childhood in the Middle Ages 11

2 The Quest for a Turning Point 19

3 Some Themes in the Cultural History of Childhood 32

Part II: Growing up: Relations with Parents and Peers 41

4 Parent–Child Relations: The First Stages 43

5 Caring for Infants? 62

6 Parent–Child Relations during the Second Phase of Childhood 83

7 Relations with Parents and the Peer Group during the Third Phase of Childhood 103

Part III: Children in a Wider World 119

8 Children at Work 121

9 Investing in the Future: Health and Education 145

Conclusion 170

Notes 172

Select Bibliography 217

Index 228

'...Colin Heywood's A History of Childhood is an interesting addition to the growing literature on children.' Children's Geographies

'...A History of Childhood represents a fine achievement and undoubtedly deserves a wide audience. It is an accessible text that is far more than the sum of its parts. This book is to be strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in the history of childhood.' Children's Geographies

'Even-handed, accurate and well-crafted, this admirable survey strikes the right balance: simple enough for a first-year student, sophisticated enough to do justice to the material.' Roy Porter, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine

'A rich and timely account of a subject too long over-simplified by artificial chronologies and generalizations neglectful of economic and cultural diversities. The infinite diversity of experience from the birthing process to the grave, the trials and joys of parenting, changing concepts of what is appropriate and morally fitting are here set in context. The child at school, the child at work, the child as target of parental, church and state concern as well as the child at play and the child making sense of the world about him are all present in these pages.' Professor Olwen Hufton, Merton College, Oxford

"This book is an invaluable addition to students on childhood studies, play, youth work and early years courses who wish to ground their concept of childhood in an historical analysis of the topic." Keith Cranwell, Thurrock College

1. A comprehensive overview of the history of childhood in the West since medieval times.

2. Examines the changing ideas about the nature of childhood, as well as providing a social history of children.

3. Deals with the subject thematically, drawing on a wide-range of examples from Europe and the States.

4. Written in a lucid and engaging manner.