Like the occupants of the children's table at a family dinner,
scholars working in childhood studies can seem sidelined from the
"adult" labor of humanities scholarship. The Children's
Table brings together scholars from architecture, philosophy,
law, and literary and cultural criticism to provide an overview of
the innovative work being done in childhood studies-a transcript of
what is being said at the children's table. Together, these
scholars argue for rethinking the academic seating arrangement in a
way that acknowledges the centrality of childhood to the work of
The figure we now recognize as a child was created in tandem with
forms of modernity that the Enlightenment generated and that the
humanities are now working to rethink. Thus the growth of childhood
studies allows for new approaches to some of the most important and
provocative issues in humanities scholarship: the viability of the
social contract, the definition of agency, the performance of
identity, and the construction of gender, sexuality, and race.
Because defining childhood is a means of defining and distributing
power and obligation, studying childhood requires a radically
altered approach to what constitutes knowledge about the human
The diverse essays in The Children's Table share a
unifying premise: to include the child in any field of study
realigns the shape of that field, changing the terms of inquiry and
forcing a different set of questions. Taken as a whole, the essays
argue that, at this key moment in the state of the humanities,
rethinking the child is both necessary and revolutionary.
Contributors: Annette Ruth Appell, Sophie Bell, Robin Bernstein,
Sarah Chinn, Lesley Ginsberg, Lucia Hodgson, Susan Honeyman, Roy
Kozlovsky, James Marten, Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Carol Singley, Lynne
Vallone, John Wall.
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