October was a busy month for the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past. On Saturday 14th October 2017, the society held a stall at The Big Biology Day at Staffordshire University. This annual event runs as part of the Royal Society of Biology’s “Biology Week”, which champions Life Sciences and was established to get the general public involved in biological sciences. This year, PhD student Esme Hookway and Dr Kirsty Squires (both based at Staffordshire University) ran several activities around childhood development (such as dental development and eruption and epiphyseal fusion of bones) and palaeopathological conditions associated with juvenile remains (e.g. rickets). Children and adults alike were particularly fascinated to learn about how the skeleton changes during childhood. The day attracted over 350 visitors and the Society has been invited to return next year.
Image above: Esme Hookway ready and waiting for visitors at the Big Biology Day at Staffordshire University
On Wednesday 25th October, the Society’s first biannual lecture took place at Staffordshire University. Dr Farah Medlesohn delivered a fascinating presentation titled “excavating literature for signs of childness”. Farah has authored several books include: The Inter-galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children’s and Teens’ Science Fiction, Diane Wynne Jones: The Fantastic Tradition and Children’s Literature, and Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction, which she wrote with colleague Professor Michael M. Levy. She won a Hugo with Edward James in 2005 for The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature. Farah also convenes the Historical Fictions Research Network. Farah explored texts written for children and teens from the early 19th century to the present day, all of which were written to propound a certain take on the English Civil Wars. These pieces of literature were designed to “grow” a particular type of child. Some books were designed as career books whilst others highlighted inter-generational duties versus tensions, of which romance was frequently employed as a means of legitimizing rebellion (a trait most commonly observed amongst teenagers in literature). Some provisional trends identified in the data presented illustrated that the theme of “rebellion” started to appear after the 1890’s whereas the theme of “duty” appears in children’s literature from 1720. I eagerly anticipate reading about Farah’s research upon its completion.
Farah is currently working on a book that will explore children’s literature, memory, and the English Civil War. Follow Farah on Twitter at @effjayem for up to date information about her research.
Image above: Dr Farah Mendlesohn delivering a lecture on texts written for children in
The Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past’s 10th International Conference will be taking place in Mexico City from Monday 6th November to Friday 10th November. The theme of the conference is “The Life and Death of Children in the Past” and will feature papers by researchers from around the world. This will be the first conference to take place in Mexico that focuses on children in the past. Stay tuned for updates about the conference on our webpage.
This piece is contributed by Dr Kirsty Squires (SSCIP Outreach Officer)