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Lecture 1 - The Concept of the Child

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EN 3174
Alison Halsall

Peter Pan The Search for Eternal Youth: Peter Pan finds Neverland The Child  Not fixed, stable concepts. There is no universal child  No universal child  Arbitrary ideas that depend on the ideology of the critic.  Depends on the bias of the reader.  Social, economic issues of the day. “Constructions…”  Historical and social 1800-present ideas in London. Binary opposition, in opposition to child and adults.  Hendrix charts version of childhood between idealized idea of innocence, and a pessimistic idea of the child from the Puritans. John Locke  The child has a blank slate of mind.  Tabula rasa  Neutral figures shaped by education and experience. Jean Rousseau: Emile  Child is born good and displays an “original innocence.”  Society corrupts child.  Environment and city living influences the child, and destroys the child.  A child must develop outside of society/city, in nature.  These two notions share the idea of the Romantic notion of a child, when a child is considered innocent.  Optimistic view of childhood.  Children are divorced from social ideas.  Child linked in the operation of the imagination. The Romantic Version as the child:  Peter Pan represents a sentimental idea of childhood. Does not want to grow up, remain as a child.  Barry complicates this idea “gay, innocent, heartless.” Has no care for anything, but doesn’t seem to care for anybody but himself. Self-absorbed.  Barrie invokes qualities of the romantic child, but questions the sentimentalism of the view through focus of Peter’s heartlessness.  The tragedy of Peter Pan. -> Cannot develop to become something more.  He is ambiguous, attractive childhood, terrifying in parts of the novel. The power he wields over the Lost boys and the Darlings.  Evangelical Child: Children are cynical and need to be saved. The child is sinful, opposite of the optimistic idea of childhood.  A child born in sin. Hanna More’s readings, Mariah Woodsworth, all view the child as sinful.  The Factory Child: A product of the Industrial Revolution. Idea of the exploited child, jarred sentimentally with the romantic idea of the child. Reality now is rubbing against the happier view of children. School became a tool for children, aside from the factory. Provided education. People wanted to get rid of the factory child worker image.  Delinquent Child: Child had knowledge and experience that was not appropriate to their age. (1) In need of education so that they could recapture innocence of childhood. (2) Troubled that child had knowledge beyond years. (3) Working class ideas jarred the Romantic views of the child. (4) Reformers troubled, solution was education, to recapture this innocence. (5) School is again an instrument of reform.  Psychomedial child: A discussion began about physical and mental conditions of school children. a) Child psychology emerged as a field of research. b) Concept that is created and sustained by adults to serve an adult agenda. The child is a concept that change, constructed by critics and adults throughout the years. Narrative:  Omnipresent narrator a) An allegiance of the story that he wants to convey b) A conversational aspect towards it. c) Move between perspective of adu
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