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The History of Childhood

4. The Twentieth Century: The “Century of the Child”?

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we consider whether the twentieth century should be considered the “century of the child”. We focus on: (i) the huge decline in infant mortality in this period; (ii) reasons for this, including improved sanitation and declining fertility rates; (iii) changes in children’s economic position, wherein they were no longer expected to contribute to the household income; (iv) the emergence of a science of childrearing and specialist advice for parents; (v) Viviana Zelizer’s work on the practice of insuring children’s lives, and what this tells us about the changing relationship between parents and children in this period.

Course

In this course, Professor Hugh Cunningham (University of Kent) explores the historical development of childhood from the early modern period to the present. In the first module, we consider Philippe Ariès’ hugely influential insights regarding the historical construction of childhood since the Middle Ages. In the second, we think about the shift in the early modern period from a negative perception of childhood linked to Protestant theology to a positive, secular vision. The third module discusses the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on childhood in the nineteenth century. In the fourth and fifth modules, we ask, firstly, whether the twentieth century should be considered the “century of the child”, and secondly whether childhood is under threat.

Lecturer

Professor Hugh Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent. He specialises in the history of childhood, youth and charity in modern Britain. His recent publications include The Reputation of Philanthropy Since 1750 (2020), Time, Work and Leisure: Life Changes in England Since 1700 (2014), and The Invention of Childhood (2006).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cunningham, H. (2021, November 03). The History of Childhood - The Twentieth Century: The “Century of the Child”? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/the-history-of-childhood/the-twentieth-century-the-century-of-the-child

MLA style

Cunningham, Hugh. "The History of Childhood – The Twentieth Century: The “Century of the Child”?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 03 Nov 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/the-history-of-childhood/the-twentieth-century-the-century-of-the-child

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