CFP – Modernism’s Child

Modernism’s Child
One-Day Conference
April 20th 2015
Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex

Keynote Speakers: Professor Douglas Mao and Dr. Natalia Cecire.

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In 1802 William Wordsworth famously declared, “The Child is father of the Man”.  Some 100 years later Sigmund Freud would bring new relevance to this statement with his burgeoning psychoanalytic theory of the determinative nature of childhood. The 1920s saw a wealth of intellectual development theorists, among them John B. Watson, whose Behaviorist work famously produced the controversial ‘Little Albert’ study of 1920. Then, in 1952, phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty delivered his lectures on Child Psychology and Pedagogy at The Sorbonne, exploring childhood from a standpoint that attempted to articulate and examine the alternative academic points of view at work in child development studies. Now, in the early twenty-first century, it is possible to distinguish ‘Philosophy of Childhood’ as a recognisably independent field of enquiry within mainstream philosophy.

Taking inspiration from Merleau-Ponty’s desire to approach the question of childhood from multiple standpoints, this conference aims to explore literary representations of childhood in modernism. Things we may consider include why what Katherine Mansfield called in her journal the “rage for confession, autobiography, especially memories of earliest childhood” was so prevalent in modernism? How reading the contemporaneous work of psychologists and sociologists can affect our understanding of literary discussions of childhood, thereby querying what it means for modernists to write the child at a time when childhood itself was undergoing both radical theoretical and practical changes? In what ways the modernist desire for “newness”, youth, and innovation is captured by the style, form, and breadth of its literary engagement with children and childhood? Particularly, how the techniques of children’s literature or the use of childish language operate within modernist texts produced both for children and adults? In addition, how the visual arts of the era respond to the question of childhood and, moreover, what reading the visual arts and the literary arts as being concerned with a similar project to explore childhood does to reveal each discipline’s engagement?

Subjects to be considered may include but are not limited to:

* Modernism’s child in autobiography / life writing / personal writing
* Psychoanalysis – childhood repression at work in modernism, childhood sexuality etc.
* Children’s being-in-the-world – self-/other-awareness in children
* Gender development in children as displayed in modernism
* The aesthetically sensitive child in modernism
* Childish embodiment – how children’s lived bodies are written
* The child in the visual arts and literary modernism
* Children’s literature in the modernist period
* Portrayals of the acquisition of language or of childish language in literary texts
* Childhood and private / domestic space – writing the spaces of childhood
* Representations of toys / children at play
* Social, economic, and cultural changes relating to children between 1900 and 1945
* Voluntary / Involuntary memory – the mental resurgence of childhood and the legacy of Proust
* Writing the psyche – how the young self is psychologically portrayed in modernism
* Comparative work on Victorian and modernist discussions of childhood
* Representations of maternity and paternity in modernism
* The child as a vehicle for modernist concerns – newness, innovation, progress, youth, etc.
* Familial texts – writers writing for / within literary families

Proposals are encouraged from all researchers working in modernist studies with abstracts from graduates and early-career researchers particularly welcome. Preference will be given to papers that foster interdisciplinary exchange. Abstracts of 250 words are invited for 20-minute papers. Please send abstracts along with a brief biographical note to
modernismschildconference@gmail.com by 1st March 2015

Conference: The nature and value of childhood

Currently there is widespread philosophical interest in children’s rights, parental rights and duties, and wider issues concerning good parenting and the social organisation of childrearing. Yet, to fully address these topics one needs to assume an answer to the question of ‘What is a child?’ To know who owes what to children shot_1322619651831in any detail, we need to know what distinguishes childhood from adulthood, and to answer questions about the relative value of childhood and adulthood in the overall life of a human being.

This conference brings together philosophers interested in a cluster of questions that have not been sufficiently discussed so far, but which are starting to draw philosophical attention: What is childhood? Is childhood good intrinsically, or only as preparation for adulthood? If it is intrinsically good, does it have special value – would it be a loss, from the perspective of an entire human life, if one missed out on childhood? Are there any ‘intrinsic goods of childhood’, and what are they? Do we owe children things that are different in nature from the things owed to adults?

Papers:

Monika Betzler (Berne) ‘Good childhood and the good life’

Teresa Blankmeyer Burke (Gallaudet): ‘The Nature and Value of a Deaf Childhood’

Samantha Brennan (Western Ontario) ‘Trust, time, and play: Three intrinsic goods of childhood’

Matthew Clayton (Warwick) ‘Dignity as an ideal for children’

Jurgen De Wispelaere (McGill) ‘Political rights for Rugrats: Children in the democratic state’

Timothy Fowler (Bristol) ‘Variety is the spice of life?: On the possible significance of their being intrinsic goods of childhood’

Colin Macleod (Victoria) ‘Just schools and good fun: Non-preparatory dimensions of educational justice’

Serena Olsaretti (ICREA/Pompeu Fabra University) ‘Egoism, altruism and the special duties of parents’

Norvin Richards (Alabama) ‘The intrinsic goods of childhood’

Judith Suissa (London) ‘Narrativity, childhood and parenting’

Patrick Tomlin (Reading) ‘Saplings or caterpillars?: Trying to understand children”

Daniel Weinstock (McGill) ‘On the complementarity of the ages of life: Why we wouldn’t want adulthood without childhood, or childhood without
adulthood’

The conference will take place on the 16th and 17th of May 2014 at the University of Sheffield, Jessops West Exhibition Space.

Registration:
http://onlineshop.shef.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=8&prodid=259

For more details get in touch with the organisers: Anca Gheaus (a.gheaus@sheffield.ac.uk) or Lindsey Porter (l.porter@lancaster.ac.uk)

The conference is sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy, The Mind Association and The Philosophy of Education Society of Great
Britain.