- Anja Müller, Universität Siegen, Germany
- Series : Ashgate Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present
Shedding light on an important and neglected topic in childhood studies, Anja Müller interrogates how different concepts of childhood proliferated and were construed in several important eighteenth-century periodicals and satirical prints. Müller focuses on The Tatler, The Spectator, The Guardian, The Female Tatler, and The Female Spectator, arguing that these periodicals contributed significantly to the construction, development, and popularization of childhood concepts that provided the basis for later ideas such as the 'Romantic child'. Informed by the theoretical concept of 'framing', by which certain concepts of childhood are accepted as legitimate while others are excluded, Framing Childhood analyses the textual and graphic constructions of the child's body, educational debates, how the shift from genealogical to affective bonding affected conceptions of parent-child relations, and how prints employed child figures as focalizers in their representations of public scenes. In examining links between text and image, Müller uncovers the role these media played in the genealogy of childhood before the 1790s, offering a re-visioning of the myth that situates the origin of childhood in late eighteenth-century England.
Contents: Preface; Introduction: representing childhood in 18th-century English prose and prints; Fashioning children's bodies; Framing children's minds; Educating the middle class – educational debates in The Tatler and The Spectator; Educational displacements; Family matters; Public children; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Anja Müller, Universität Siegen, Germany
Reviews: Prize: Named the 2009 Honor Book by the Children's Literature Association
'Thorough and meticulous in its survey of its primary materials, Muller’s study convincingly demonstrates the importance of early mass media in shaping and framing childhood in the eighteenth century. As Müller forcefully demonstrates, periodicals and prints were not merely reflective but rather constitutive in significant ways of both the pedagogical debates and the theories and technologies of childhood in the period. Further, her work points out how the discourses of childhood in the period were not as unified as many critics have hitherto suggested but housed a range of tensions, divisions, and contradictions.'
Andrew O'Malley, Ryerson University, Canada
'This study’s well-researched and convincing analyses of textual and graphic constructions of the child’s body and mind, as well as of educational and political debates provide an outstanding contribution to childhood studies.' Anglia
'Müller's study is invaluable for the wealth of graphic materials it makes available, and it is at its best when she is examining the gap between the high art rendering of eighteenth-century families on which many of our conceptions of childhood are based and the varied perspectives on the child offered by mass-produced print media. This book is also important for the conversation it provokes with the reader. ... the ample illustrations provide plenty of opportunity to contest interpretations, and the author's enthusiasm for demonstrating the richness and diversity of the figure of the child in eighteenth-century culture keeps the reader eager to learn more.' Eighteenth-Century Fiction
'The work's great strengths include the author's great efforts to tell the reader what she is going to do in each given chapter and section, the wealth of details she finds to comment on in the periodical passages and prints she deals with, and her willingness to figure out the modern theories she draws on and to apply them to her material. All too often literary and history scholars do not work on illustrative material and art historians do not work with narrative resources: Müller shows an enviable ability to work with both the narrative and the visual.' SHARP News
'... Müller certainly manages to convey her theses succinctly. ... Anja Müller's book is a groundbreaking work on the cultural history of the eighteenth century, and will be indispensable to future research.' Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
'[Müller's] knowledge of the literature in the field is extensive and her particular analysis of texts and prints is always meticulous and convincing.' 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era
‘Framing Childhood is an admirable study. Informed by the theoretical and methodological paradigm shifts of the past forty years, it shows, by its consistent lucidity, that scholarship can be theoretically sophisticated without being impenetrable or opaque. The study is also helpful in its exposition of the full range of traditional historical learning relation to its topic… This book is a careful, systematic treatment of broad importance. Learned, judicious, and nourishing, it amply repays careful study by scholars in history, literature, pedagogy, and the social sciences.’ The Scriblerian
'The similarities and differences in the way that each type of media put forth the notion of the child should lead scholars with an interest in childhood to reconsider this notion in other literature and art of the period. Although Müller only refers tangentially to children’s literature, her analysis provides not only information but also food for thought for those with interest in it, for example in relation to the comparison between exemplary tales and caricature and satire.' Journal of Children’s Literature Studies
Extracts from this title are available to view:
Full contents list