I am currently writing a history of American childhood between 1965 and 1980, which explores the effects of various social and political movements of the era in children's culture.
My dissertation tells the history of interwar summer camps in New York State, and provides insight into the lives of the New York City children who attended them. Widely disparate groups shared the belief that rural spaces offered a healthy antidote to city living, and proposed that camps were especially suited to teach children the arts of social acculturation and good citizenship. The children of recent immigrants and the native-born; union activists and socialists; Protestants, Jews and Catholics; and children of all races and classes–-to varying degrees, all of these boys and girls shared this rite of passage. They did not, however, usually share camps; as the history of summer camps suggests, communal self-segregation could be taken to new heights in rural spaces. In camping-conscious New York City, perhaps one out of seven children attended camp at some point. Camping in New York State, meanwhile, serves as an ideal example of a national industry in expansion; by the late...
This course examines American history from the end of the Second World War to the present day, a period of significant political, social and cultural ferment. Themes of the course include the Cold War; consumerism; immigration; the role of the federal bureaucracy and of the Presidency; social movements including civil rights, feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, and environmentalism; the rise of the New Right; and the impact of 9/11.
This course, which is mandatory for all fourth-year Honours students, has two primary objectives. The first is to introduce students to the history of children and adolescents, considering youth both as a stage of life and as a contested political and social category. Topics will include the rise of modern youth cohorts, the politics of the family, children as workers and learners, the influence of popular culture, and children’s status in particular times, communities, and regions. The second goal of the course is to help students to conceptualize and write their honours graduating essays.
We will read a range of texts selected both for their thematic content and for their utility as models of historical writing. In the first semester, close readings of texts will allow students to explore the “nuts and bolts” of how writers ask historical questions, make their arguments, find and use sources, and situate their work in relation to relevant historiographies. The second semester will focus closely on students’ own research projects and themes; published readings will be few in number, as students will mainly “workshop” portions of their theses in progress. The focus of these class meetings will be critical (but supportive and constructive) engagement with one another’s writing projects.