The Hermeneutics of Recuperation: What a Kinship-Model Approach to Children’s Agency Could Do for Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies
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In the opening pages of her groundbreaking book Dependent States, cultural historian Karen Sánchez-Eppler clears a path for children’s literature critics interested in challenging the notion that children function solely as passive recipients of culture. Without dismissing the key insights generated by Jacqueline Rose and other literary critics who treat childhood strictly “as a discourse among adults” (xvi), Sánchez-Eppler nevertheless announces her intention to regard children not merely as objects of socialization but also as “individuals inhabiting and negotiating” societal conceptions of what it means to be a child (xv). She thus sets out to analyze not just how American adults in the nineteenth century represented children but also how children represented themselves. To pay attention to children’s diaries and other similar sources, she stresses carefully, “is not to pretend that children are fully independent actors, unhampered by the constraints of adult regulation and desire; but neither is it to see children as incapable of defining their own terms and grounds of power and meaning” (xxviii).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. Literature Section
Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures
Johns Hopkins University Press
Gubar, Marah. "The Hermeneutics of Recuperation: What a Kinship-Model Approach to Children’s Agency Could Do for Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies." Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures 8, 1 (Summer 2016): 291-310 © 2016 Project Muse
Author's final manuscript