Sponsored by the Childhood and Youth Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association, this roundtable highlights emerging approaches in the field via the ASA meeting theme (https://theasa.net/annual-meeting/years-meeting/next-years-theme). We especially welcome proposals from scholars of color and others who are underrepresented in childhood studies communities. Please send a short bio and a 200-250 word abstract of your proposed contribution to the topic described below to Harriette Kevill-Davies, firstname.lastname@example.org, by Jan. 3, 2018.
Often regarded as a state of emergence, childhood shapes common understandings of the ways in which people endure and address change and crisis. Where do children themselves stand in American states of emergence and emergency? How can studies of childhood illuminate these states, present and historical, and perhaps shed light on the very cultural constructions of “emergence” and “emergency”?
From the Women’s March #WokeBaby and the children suing the Trump administration over climate change to activism against police violence by young people such as Niya Kenny, children have faced our present emergency with force and clarity. Children may also have the most to lose: both in cultural terms, as detailed in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools, and in terms of life itself, as horrifically evidenced in studies on the effects of toxic water in Flint, Michigan.
As American Studies scholars, we may also interrogate how these very discourses of child emergency may affect children themselves, particularly in raced, classed and gendered ways. What are the stakes of placing children at the center of our urgent calls, and which children become the emblems of emergence and/or emergency?
We approach the meeting theme from several emerging branches of childhood studies, possibly including but not limited to: critical race theory, LGBTQ+ youth studies, girlhood, children’s literature, performance studies, transnational children’s studies, education and literacy, and archival theory. Representing a broad historical and methodological spectrum of scholarship, roundtable participants will discuss two guiding questions:
1. What emergent methodologies and approaches are illuminating children and youth in American Studies?
2. What do children and childhood teach us about American states of emergence/emergency, present or historical?
Participants will draw on their own research to address these questions, with each panelist responding for about 10 minutes before joining a room-wide conversation.
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