Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children

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With the advent of urbanization in the early modern period, the material worlds of children were vastly altered. In industrialized democracies, a broad consensus developed that children should not work, but rather learn and play in settings designed and built with these specific purposes in mind. Unregulated public spaces for children were no longer acceptable; and the cultural landscapes of children's private lives were changed, with modifications in architecture and the objects of daily life.

In Designing Modern Childhoods, architectural historians, social historians, social scientists, and architects examine the history and design of places and objects such as schools, hospitals, playgrounds, houses, cell phones, snowboards, and even the McDonald's Happy Meal. Special attention is given to how children use and interpret the spaces, buildings, and objects that are part of their lives, becoming themselves creators and carriers of culture. The authors extract common threads in children's understandings of their material worlds, but they also show how the experience of modernity varies for young people across time, through space, and according to age, gender, social class, race, and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Kathryn Shattuck
Designing Modern Childhoods circumnavigates the globe to examine how children have been cared for, emboldened, coddled, toughened up and even manipulated by adults who thought they knew best when it came to providing a child’s physical world.
New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813541952
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2008
  • Series: Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Marta Gutman is an associate professor in the School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture at the City College of New York/CUNY.

Ning de Coninck-Smith is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Sociology at the Danish University of Education.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Paula S. Fass

Introduction: Good to Think With: History, Space, and Modern Childhood

PART ONE: Child Saving and the Design of Modern Childhoods
1 Connecting with the Landscape: Campfires and Youth Culture at American Summer Camps, 1890–1950
2 A (Better) Home Away from Home: The Emergence of Children’s Hospitals in an Age of Women’s Reform
3 Sick Children and the Thresholds of Domesticity: The Dawson-Harrington Families at Home
4 The “Myers Park Experiment” in Auckland, New Zealand, 1913–1916

PART TWO: The Choreography of Education and Play
5 A Breath of Fresh Air: Open-Air Schools in Europe
6 Molding the Republican Generation: The Landscapes of Learning in Early Republican Turkey
7 Nomadic Schools in Senegal: Manifestations of Integration or Ritual Performance?
8 Adventure Playgrounds and Postwar Reconstruction

PART THREE: Space, Power, and Inequality in
Modern Childhoods
9 The View from the Back Step: White Children Learn about Race in Johannesburg’s Suburban Homes
10 Children and the Rosenwald Schools of the American South
11 The Geographies and Identities of Street Girls in Indonesia

PART FOUR: Consumption, Commodification, and the Media: Material Culture and Contemporary Childhoods
12 Coming of Age in Suburbia: Gifting the Consumer Child
13 Inscribing Nordic Childhoodsat McDonald’s
14 “Board with the World”: Youthful Approaches to Landscapes and Mediascapes
15 Migrating Media: Anime Media Mixes and the Childhood Imagination

Epilogue: The Islanding of Children: Reshaping the Mythical Landscapes of Childhood

Notes on Contributors

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