HIST 4501 (2)
"Children and Childhood in the West, 1500-1959"
In some ways, childhood is a universal experience: all humans must be children even if they never experience adulthood. The experience of being a child has varied dramatically across time and space, however, as have the concepts surrounding childhood. Children are peculiar in many ways: children are sometimes treated as adults, but in most cases they are seen as somehow different than adults, with their own code of conduct, legal status, and culture. Yet, they are also a part of the wider society and culture to which they belong, and it has become a commonplace that a people group ought to be judged by how they treat their weakest members, into which category children often fall. The child’s vulnerability has made him or her an easy target for victimization, so much so that in the twentieth century the UN declared that there are human rights that are particular to children. Thus, the study of childhood and children in history must address an extremely wide set of issues, including agency, gender, economics, culture, law, and more.
In this seminar students will consider children and childhood in the west during the early modern and modern periods. We will begin by asking why children and childhood ought to be studied by historians. We will then spend several weeks considering the wide variety of sources and methodologies historians of childhood can employ. At the same time, we will delve into some of the trending topics within the history of childhood, concluding with an examination of children and human rights and the seminal UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959).
This class is designed to provide students with an introduction to historical research based upon primary sources. To that end, the objective of this seminar is for each student to produce a research paper of approximately 25 pages in length. In the process, students will write a proposal of their project (1-3 pages), a preliminary bibliography, a detailed paper outline, an article review (3-5 pages), a first draft (at least 12 pages), and a final draft. Students also will be required to actively participate in all class meetings.
This course meets the Second Writing Requirement.