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Bertha Mook

Although there is a realization in Western society today that childhood is changing, the topic remains clouded in confusion and contradictory viewpoints. The central question, if and how the nature of childhood itself has changed, has led the author to conduct a metabletic inquiry. Metabletics or the science of change is a human science research approach that incorporates phenomenological methods and seeks to understand a phenomenon by taking its historical development, its social cultural context and relevant synchronistic developments into account. In exploring the changing nature of childhood, historical, metabletic, and phenomenological studies were consulted as well as some selected sources from literature, art, and entertainment that portray the lives of children and, in particular, of boys in the past and in the present. First, a brief historical perspective on the changing nature of childhood from traditional to modern times is presented. This is followed by the concept of modern childhood and its transition to a postmodern childhood. The author aims to describe the essential characteristics of childhood with a focus on boyhood as lived in different historical time periods in order to contribute to a clearer understanding of its changing nature. The present study is exploratory and opens a vast domain that awaits further detailed investigations.

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Martin Ashley, Jürgen Budde, Andrew Calimach, Heather Ellis, Pauline Farley, Stephen T. Graef, Diederik Janssen, Amanda Keddie, Bertha Mook, Peter Redman and Maria Elena Reyes

For this, the sixth issue of Thymos, which will conclude its third year of publication and with a lively plan of upcoming issues already in place, I asked the members of our editorial board and all past contributors to Thymos to informally respond to this question: “As someone who has written about ‘the boy’ and ‘boyhood’, how do you conceptualize and define these terms as you begin to study and write about issues facing ‘boys’, in the cities, in rural settings, in schools, in various contemporary cultures?” I also suggested that the meaning of “the boy” and “boyhood” may, in fact, be the central issue of boyhood studies at this point. The question elicited eleven remarkably different responses, which follow.