Colin Heywood's classic account of childhood from the early Middle Ages to the First World War combines a long-run historical perspective with a broad geographical spread. This new, comprehensively updated edition incorporates the findings of the most recent research, and in particular revises and expands the sections on theoretical developments in the 'new social studies of childhood', on medieval conceptions of the child, on parenting and on children’s literature. Rather than merely narrating their experiences from the perspectives of adults, Heywood incorporates children’s testimonies, 'looking up' as well as 'down'. Paying careful attention to elements of continuity as well as change, he tells a story of astonishing material improvement for the lives of children in advanced societies, while showing how the business of preparing for adulthood became more and more complicated and fraught with emotional difficulties. Rich with evocative details of everyday life, and providing the most concise and readable synthesis of the literature available, Heywood's book will be indispensable to all those interested in the study of childhood.
Contents Acknowledgements Introduction Part I: Changing Conceptions of Childhood 1 Conceptions of Childhood in the Middle Ages 2 The Quest for a Turning Point 3 Some Themes in the Cultural History of Childhood Part II: Growing up in the Family 4 The Start of a New Life 5 A Precarious Infancy 6 Early Childhood, Age Two to Seven 7 Later Childhood, Age Seven to Fourteen Part III: Children in a Wider World 8 Children at Work in Agricultural Societies 9 Child Labour and Industrialization 10 Children's Leisure Activities 11 Children's Health 11 The Child and the School Conclusion Notes Select Bibliography Index
"This is a lively, accessible and compelling overview of how childhood has been thought about and experienced over the last 800 years. Grounded in recent scholarship it provides a very effective summary of key debates, approaches and themes. It is an excellent introduction to the topic for students, and essential reading for all those interested in the ways in which children's lives have changed for better or worse across time." Louise Jackson, University of Edinburgh "Anyone interested in the history of childhood will do well to start with Heywood's fine work. It covers necessary topics, like child labor, schooling and health, but also subtler ones including child agency, the relationship of children to good and evil and the "value" of children. It is also a great read." Carl Ipsen, Indiana University
Colin Heywood is Emeritus Professor of Modern French History at the University of Nottingham.
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.
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