American Childhood: Essays on Children's Literature of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New edition)
By: Anne Scott MacLeod (author)Paperback
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In this collection of fourteen essays, Anne Scott MacLeod locates and describes shifts in the American concept of childhood as those changes are suggested in nearly two centuries of children's stories. A social historian and literary critic of genuine insight, MacLeod has helped to pioneer an approach to American culture through the children's literature that arises from it: "When I read books written for children, " MacLeod comments in her preface, "I look for author's views, certainly, but I also try to discover what the culture is saying about itself, about the present and the future, and about the nature and purposes of childhood....Children's books don't mirror their culture, but they do always, no matter how indirectly, convey some of its central truths." Most of the essays concern domestic novels for children - stories set more or less in the time of their publication and meant for adolescent and teen readers. Some essays also draw creatively on childhood memoirs, travel writings that contain foreigners' observations of American children, and other studies of children's literature. MacLeod looks beyond the books to their unwritten subtexts - to the interplay between writers' adherence to conventions, their own memories of youth, and their adult concerns. She probes as well the tension between the literal, superficial images and themes of the stories and the realities of the surrounding culture. Beading across historical periods, MacLeod traces changes in our attitudes toward children and shows how they have paralleled or departed from the characteristic tone of each era. The topics on which she writes range from the recently politicized marketplace for children's books to thereestablishment (and reconfiguration) of the family in the latest children's fiction to the ways that literature challenges or enforces the idealization of children. MacLeod sometimes considers a single author's canon, as when she discusses the feminism of the Nancy Drew mystery seri
Anne Scott MacLeod is a professor of children's literature in the College of Library and Information Services at the University of Maryland and a past president of the International Research Society for Children's Literature. She is the author of "A Moral Tale: Children's Fiction and American Culture, 1820-1860."
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- ID: 9780820318035
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