Seeking Childhood

The Emergence of the Child in the Visual and Literary Culture of the French Long Nineteenth Century

Author(s) Sophie Handler

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism, Art and Music

Series: Studies in Visual Culture

  • June 2024 · 272 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781837721320
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781837721337
  • · eBook - epub - 9781837721344

About The Book

This book explores the visual and literary culture of transforming perceptions of children and childhood in France during the long nineteenth century. Charting the developmental period between two moments central to cultural and social understandings of children and childhood, the book’s case studies examine the conceptual and cultural development of children and childhood between the acknowledgement of the child in an Enlightenment context and the avant-garde championing of childhood in the early twentieth century. Recognising this as a crossroads of tradition and modernity, the text demonstrates how artists and writers reflected upon childhood and children as symbolic of both ‘Self’ and ‘Other’, as well as considering the implications for art, society and individual life.


‘Seeking Childhood is a new reference point for anyone working in this thriving interdisciplinary field. The author ranges across a wealth of landmark literary and visual texts drawn from the long nineteenth century in France while simultaneously tracing a thought-provoking journey through the cultural history of children and childhood. A reader's delight.’

Chris Harris, retired Professor of Modern Languages and Cultures and former Vice-President of Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, China


Elucidating Approaches to the Study
Chapter One
From the Twentieth Century to the Nineteenth Century: A Retrospective of Childhood
Chapter Two
Romantic Enlightenment: The Carte Blanche of Childhood, c. 1750 – 1850
Chapter Three
Negotiating the Dark Underbelly: Children of the Poor, c. 1830 – 1880
Chapter Four
Searching for Solace: Children of the Bourgeoisie, c. 1850 – 1920
Chapter Five
Toy Town Theatre: Material Acculturation and the Child, c. 1870 – 1900
Chapter Six
Breaking the Mould: Burgeoning Cultural Emancipation of the Child, c. 1880 – 1920
Finding the Child Within Us All
Index of Images

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Sophie Handler

Sophie Handler is Lecturer of Art and Design History at Liverpool Hope University, and a teacher of humanities and social sciences. She is an art historian specialising in the relationship between visual and literary cultures and socio-cultural experiences and identities of children.

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