Historical Childhoods

Module code: X3253
Level 4
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Project

This module provides an introductory overview of the history of childhood and youth from antiquity through to the early modern and modern period, drawing primarily from Western European traditions but with reference to global contexts where appropriate. It will frame contemporary understandings of childhood and youth through the evaluation of different social constructions, different ways of exploring childhoods of the past, and the use of diverse types of historical sources.

The module will examine how childhood was conceptualised by contemporaries and scholars and look at how historical childhoods were shaped by evolutionary changes in parenting, welfare, work, health, education, leisure, and culture alongside the impact of more dramatic events like warfare and epidemics. Through a process of enquiry you will be challenged to consider key questions and debates such as whether “childhood” is a contemporary construct or an evolving state of being across history and why the child’s position in the workforce has fluctuated over time.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a developed understanding of changes and continuities in the history of childhood and the ways in which childhood has been conceptualised over time
  • Comprehend and critique a range of historical sources and scholarship in developing an understanding of historical childhoods.
  • Research independently and through group work the meanings and histories of selected material culture and historical sources and present a coherent analysis of their provenance, value and meaning