Post-war childhood and adolescence
Young sixties activists grew up in a historically distinct landscape.
Allowing for the social and psychological dislocations of war, postwar Britain remained a stable and conservative place to be. Simon
J. Charlesworth explained the importance of understanding place as a
‘natural starting point for understanding being’.1 Autobiographies of
fifties middle- and working-class childhood have commonly identified
the psychological security deriving from the stable social and economic
conditions of the post-war boom.2 These are the
in Spanish, Italian,
French and English literature. The ménagier of Paris, for example,
described his fifteen-year-old wife as an adolescent (‘vostre
adolescence feminine’). 1 While the term did not have the connotations of the
modern word – such as teenage angst and alienation – it was
used to describe a life stage prior to adulthood. Philosophical
discussions attempted to fix chronological limits
car wreck would speed up … If I went to the drowning man
the drowning man would pull me under. I couldn’t be his
life raft (Flynn 2004 : 10–11).
I begin this
chapter with this quote because it captures the fluidity between
marginality and centrality in an activist’s biography and how
social movement subcultures serve as a space for liminal adolescence.
Flynn, a renowned American poet, first met his father while working at a
homeless shelter. The memoir features two parallel
From the time of his early adolescence until his death, traveling was one of, if not the,
driving force of James Baldwin’s life. He traveled to escape, he travelled to discover,
and he traveled because traveling was a way of knowing himself, of realizing his
Dismissed by most critics, including even those sympathetic to alternative cinema,
Harmony Korine‘s Gummo (1997) presents a tabloid look at the dark underside of
adolescence. It aims to provoke its audience by pushing the boundaries of acceptable
good taste. In Gummo, Korine employs a more experimental collage technique in which
scenes are linked, not by the cause and effect of conventional plot, but by the
elusive logic of free association. This essay contextualizes Korines work within
skateboard culture and the recent Modern Gothic trend toward creepy, angst ridden,
and death-obsessed work by younger contemporary American artists. It argues that
Gummo‘s real achievement rests on its unusual narrative syntax – the way Korine is
able to weave together the films disparate scenes and events to create a viscerally
assaulting, Modern Gothic portrait of the notion of “difference” in its various
During the mid-1980s, the object of the condom became associated with the prevention of HIV/AIDS. This book investigates the consequences of this shift in the object's meaning. Focusing on the US, British and Australian contexts, it addresses the impact of the discourse of safer sex on our lives and, in particular, the lives of adolescents. Addressing AIDS public health campaigns, sex education policies, sex research on adolescence and debates on the eroticisation of safer sex, the book looks at how the condom has affected our awareness of ourselves, of one another and of our futures. In its examination of the condom in the late twentieth century, it critically engages with a range of literatures, including those concerned with sexuality, adolescence, methods, gender and the body.
This book demonstrates that the discussion of non-aristocratic women can be securely grounded in archival documentation. It explores, with sensitivity and sophistication, the relationship between the picture which emerges from such sources and the literary and theological perceptions of womankind. The book provides a collection of documentary material, much of it previously unpublished, and guides the reader in the techniques needed to glean rich evidence of contemporary behaviour and assumptions from what can seem, at first sight, unpromisingly austere sources. It also demonstrates the variety of evidence that survives of English women in all walks of life from the time of Edward I to the eve of the Reformation. The book then provides substantial overview of current thinking about English medieval women below the level of the greater aristocracy. It also explores the life-cycle themes of childhood, adolescence, married life, widowhood and old age. The book then moves on to examine such topics as work in town and country, prostitution, the law, recreation and devotion. There is an element of caprice and artificiality in trying to divide the lives of medieval women under particular heads. This is especially true of the label 'devotion'. The culture of later medieval England was a Christian culture and Christian ideology permeated every aspect of life. The book recovers the experience of ordinary medieval women.
One of the key aims of this book is to offer a synthesis of the main findings of current research on age. It is intended as an outline survey and consequently the scope of the book is deliberately broad: it covers two centuries, considers the large land mass of Western Europe with its diverse languages, customs and cultures, and ranges across the social spectrum. The book focuses solely on the Christian West, including consideration on the extent to which social rank influenced life expectancy, the methods and goals of upbringing, marriage patterns and funerary memorialisation. The book also demonstrates how extensive that range can be. Examples are drawn from manorial accounts, tax assessments, spiritual writings, didactic literature, romances, elegies, art and architecture. The main thrust is that age formed an essential part of a person's identity in late medieval Europe. During adolescence, men and women progressively took on their adult roles. Three chapters are devoted to educating girls. The book discusses young people's period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It draws attention to pious young women who fought against marriage and wanted a chaste life. Divergences between northern and southern Europe in terms of marriage patterns, family formation, opportunities for women and attitudes towards death and its rituals are discussed. The book shows that attitudes towards the undeveloped young meant that children had few legal responsibilities. Another aim of the book is to consider the changing opportunities and possibilities for people as they progressed through life.
A Progressive Education? argues that concepts of both childhood and
adolescence were transformed in English and Welsh primary and secondary modern
schools between 1918 and 1979, and that, by putting childhood at the centre of
the history of education, we can challenge the stories we tell about how and why
schooling itself changed. A ‘progressive’ or ‘child-centred’ education began to
emerge theoretically in the United States and Western Europe from the late
nineteenth century, claiming to rewrite curriculums to suit children and young
people’s needs, wants and abilities. Existing work suggests that progressivism
both rose and retreated in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, when a right-wing
backlash against permissive teaching and the deschooling movement led to the
imposition of central state control over education. However, the child-centred
pedagogies that became mainstream in English and Welsh schools after 1945 rested
on a fundamentally different vision of childhood. Unlike utopian deschoolers,
post-war child-centred educationalists assumed that the achievements of mass
democracy and the welfare state must be carefully preserved. Children needed to
be socialised by adult educators to ensure that they acquired the necessary
physical, intellectual, social and emotional maturity to become full citizens.
Teachers, far from enthusiastically advocating child-centred methods, perceived
them as a profound challenge to their authority in the classroom, and
implemented them partially and reluctantly. Child-centred education, in alliance
with developmental psychology, thus promoted a much more restrictive and
pessimistic image of childhood and youth as it came to dominate mainstream
schooling after the Second World War.