The study of children and childhood are now hot topics across a range of academic disciplines including philosophy, anthropology, literature, theology, and history. The historical study of childhood began with Philippe Ariès’s ground-breaking work, L’Enfant et la Vie Familiale sous l’Ancien Régime (1960) (published in English as Centuries of Childhood in 1962), which argued that the notion of childhood was “created” in the seventeenth century. Ariès’s controversial claim stimulated rich debate and introduced a whole new field of study that continues to develop. Today, historians talk about a new history of childhood that pays attention to the actions of children with adults and with each other, thus addressing a long-ignored defect in the historical record: until recently, the focus has been on adults’ conceptions of childhood, their sentiments toward children, and their child-rearing methods. Children themselves hovered anonymously at the edge of the frame. In this course, we will consider not so much what adults thought and wrote about children, but what can be discovered about historical children themselves. Using a range of sources—including diaries, letters, catechisms, and accounts of children’s deaths—we will ask, how do we understand children’s spiritual identities, their religious activities and experiences, and their beliefs? How have they contributed to the life of the church?
This course covers the period 1600–1900, allowing us to focus on particular moments and events while also allowing us to perceive shifts and continuities across time. Britain forms our starting point, but Germany, America, and Canada will also be considered. Furthermore, while the frame is historical, there will be points of connection to children today, including our own identities as children of God.
On Campus and Online: This course is being offered on campus and online in Winter 2023. Students may apply to take this course online when registering for the course through REGIS. In order to support students who are unable to attend the regular online class sessions, recordings will be made available on the course Moodle page for 48 hours following each class. In some cases, attendance at other sessions may be required.