A History of Children and Childhood in Modern Europe (HIH1022)

15 credits

Is childhood natural and universal? How do children as social actors shape the worlds in which they live and how do their social worlds shape them? In this module, we will grapple with the social experiences and cultural meanings of childhood in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe, and look at how experiences of infancy, childhood and youth have been constructed across both time and geography. The module will trace this development from the emergence of the notion of the innocence and sanctity of childhood in the nineteenth century, through the radical redefinition of children's rights and duties in early to mid-twentieth century, to the recent discussions of children, politics and violence. It will draw on a variety of social, cultural, medical, legal and political sources, and explore how the status of children was affected by the radical changes in the nature, purpose and structure of families over the two centuries. Moreover, different conceptualisations of family and parental authority have been indicative of broader social, cultural and political shifts, and the module will consider how different perspectives on children and childhood affected discussions of social relations and political organisations.