English C136

Junior Coursework: Topics in American Studies: The Era of the Child--The U.S. 1865-1900

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2007 Hutson, Richard
Hutson, Richard
TTh 9:30-11 305 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Aldrich, Thomas Bailey: The Story of a Bad Boy; Alcott, Louisa May: Little Women; Alger, Horatio: Ragged Dick and Mark the Match Boy; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels, What Maisie Knew; Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Wiggin, Kate D.: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm


"Historians often define the era after the Civil War and especially from 1880 to ca. 1915 as the ""era of the child."" Children became the heroes of popular culture as well as major subjects for painters and intellectuals and cultural observers. This is a period in which ordinary citizens felt that an economic and social revolution was taking place with the rise of industrial capitalism and urban transformations, creating a crisis of major cultural/political/economic rapid change. Such a historical trauma seemed to demand difficult and painful reconsiderations and redefinitions. Just as there developed an issue of defining masculinity and femininity in the period, there developed a problem about children and adolescents. Questions about boys and girls might be not only about gender definitions but also about the development of an ethical consciousness, what might be called everyday ethical coping. Children seemed to represent the last vestige of a world that was being lost. In the aftermath of the elevation of the importance of children in the Romantic era earlier in the century, in the U.S., the narratives of boys and girls gave artists the opportunity to observe, scrutinize, critique, and entertain."

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