Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Early Modern European Children and the Non-European World

We invite proposals for chapter-length contributions to an upcoming volume concerning the ways children participated in the expansion of global knowledge and horizons over the course of the early modern period (c. 1500 – 1800) in Europe. We are particularly interested in pursuing this through the study of media created for or presented to children, approached through a variety of disciplinarian perspectives, including history, literary studies, art history, history of science, and philosophy.

Great discoveries of global diversity – both social and geographical – were made over the early modern period, and such new knowledge was spread across Europe through materials such as travel narratives, material objects, children’s books, periodicals, and popular histories. To what extent was this new knowledge popularised with children directly in mind? And what was the function of presenting this new knowledge? Was the exotic simply to serve as light, superficial entertainment, or was there a more serious intent in mind? Could exotic knowledge serve in some manner as an edifying force? In which contexts was such knowledge presented?

Global diversity had significant impacts upon notions of European identity, as well as upon national self-identification. What impact did growing knowledge of global social diversity have upon the study/teaching of Antiquity? And how was religious diversity treated?

These sources also offer compelling insights into changes in pedagogical sentiments over our period. Adults invariably filter knowledge down to children – but what are their selection criteria? What is seen as particularly suitable for the needs or interests of children, and what as inappropriate? How can these inform our understanding of contemporary concepts of childhood?

We are also interested in how this theme relates to more general frames in the European history of knowledge. How did the function of knowledge shift from enabling the Humanist ideal of internal universal reflection to securing the Enlightenment notion of knowledge as a form of social membership production?
Contributions concerned with some of these questions are welcomed, as are contributions from graduate students. This collection will be published as part of the “Aufklärung und Moderne” series of the Wehrhahn Verlag, Hannover. Papers can be written in English or German. If interested in contributing, please send a short abstract (in either English or German) of 300 and a CV to one of the addresses below by the 15th of October 2010. Additionally, if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of us.

Nicholas Miller, Universität Potsdam

Pauline Pujo, École Normale Supérieure