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Renaiss Q. 2007 Summer;60(2):371-407.

Concepts of childhood: what we know and where we might go.

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Brooklyn College.


The publication of some forty years ago of the landmark work by Philippe Aries, entitled Centuries of childhood, in its widely-read English translation, unleashed decades of scholarly investigation of that once-neglected target, the child. Since then, historians have uncovered the traces of attitudes toward children- were they neglected, exploited, abused, cherished?- and patterns of child-rearing. They have explored such issues, among others, as the varieties of European household structure; definitions of the stages of life; childbirth, wetnursing, and the role of the midwife; child abandonment and the foundling home; infanticide and its prosecution; apprenticeship, servitude, and fostering; the evolution of schooling; the consequences of religious diversification; and the impact of gender. This essay seeks to identify key features and recent trends amid this abundance of learned inquiry.

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