Fragile Subjects: Childhood in Literature, Arts and Medicine
August, 19-20, 2015, University of Turku, Finland
Keynote speakers: Maria Nikolajeva, Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge; Sally Shuttleworth, Professor, Faculty of English Language and Literature and St Anne’s College University of Oxford; Valerie Walkerdine, Distinguished Research Professor, Cardiff University.
Organizers: Research project “Fragile Subjects: Childhood in Finnish Literature and Medicine, 1850s-2000s” (Academy of Finland) & Finnish Literature, University of Turku
We warmly welcome you to this international and multidisciplinary conference on childhood in literature, arts and medicine, particularly the “psy” sciences. The conference addresses the idea and historicity of childhood; its changing meanings and notions in modernity and postmodernity. It aims at tracing discourses and representations that construct particular norms and ideals of childhood, as well as counter-images of normative notions of childhood. We warmly invite scholars from a broad range of disciplines and fields of research, who are interested in the cultural and medical production of childhood(s).
Scientists and writers have been riddling the mystery of the child, and an increasing army of child professionals keep producing knowledge on children and childhood today. Children have become valuable and fragile subjects of the modern era, and childhood can be understood as an essential node of modernity. Childhood has also established itself as a part of our modern understandings of ourselves – our autobiographies. In postmodernity, childhood has not lost its fragile nature, but perhaps its freedom. After the Second World War, new psychological theories, safety consciousness, and anxiety about sexual danger have led to an emphasis on the safety of the home, limiting particularly children’s physical freedom, at least in some contexts. In the contemporary world, the child is seen as knowing rather than ignorant, yet children are under constant surveillance from the day they are born. Twentieth-century cultural, societal and medical obsession with children, tend to focus on problems (e.g. eating disorders, behavioral/mental problems, substance abuse, violence), reflecting discourses of protection and innocence but also control and moral panics. Nevertheless, the imaginative world of fiction and arts may offer an escape from social expectations in providing alternative representations of children and childhood.
Papers (20 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion) may be historically oriented or look at contemporary settings, taking up the following or related questions:
- How has modern childhood been constructed in different cultural and scientific discourses? What are the changes and continuities?
- What kind of child figures can be found in fiction, visual culture, media, and life narratives?
- In what ways has the mind of the child gained attention in both medicine, particularly the “psy” disciplines, and in arts?
- How are intersections of gender, class, race, and ethnicity played out in constructions of childhood?
- Fears and threats, joys and pleasures connected to contemporary or past childhoods?
- How should we understand the role of the child sciences?
- What is the role of childhood in constructions of adulthood?
For more information about the conference, please visit our webpage. Submission of abstracts (max. 300 words) by November, 30, 2014, online here. Registration and the payment of conference fee 70 EUR by April 30, 2015. After April 30, the conference fee is 100 EUR.
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