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From Boy to Man in Antiquity

Jesus in the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas

Reidar Aasgaard

This article presents a survey of research on childhood in antiquity and describes briefly the position of children in late antiquity and early Christianity. Special attention is given to the relationship between childhood and gender, with a focus on boyhood. The article analyses the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which tells the childhood story of Jesus from age five to twelve. This brief story, which consists of miracle stories and discourses, originated in Greek in the 2nd century CE and became widely popular. The article shows that its depiction of Jesus conforms to current ideas of gender, gender relations, and gender socialisation. A central claim in the article is that boys were not expected to show the same degree of self-restraint as were adult males, but that as children they were allowed to behave more emotionally and unpredictably. Rather than being literarily inferior or theologically aberrant, the Infancy of Gospel of Thomas in its depiction of Jesus gives a lively and credible glimpse into the world and development of a late antiquity or early Christianity male child on his way from boyhood to male adult life.

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Megan Sullivan

In this article I analyze fiction and non-fiction using the critical lens or methodology of Girlhood Studies. I re-examine my published writing on Irish writer Mary Beckett and Irish-American author Lucy Grealy to demonstrate how feminist scholars can read differently. I argue that in my initial readings of the aforementioned texts I neglected the girl in the story, because I was concerned about the woman the female character would become. Finally, I also argue that feminist scholars should mine their own childhood experiences for insight into the study of girls. I provide an excerpt from my memoir in progress to demonstrate how this might be accomplished.

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Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Children in the Middle East

Erika Friedl and Abderrahmane Moussaoui

For several reasons there exist only relatively few ethnographic studies of children in the Middle East or in the diaspora. Accordingly, the articles in this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East represent thematically and theoretically highly divergent projects, all based on ethnographic topics and methodologies. Geographically they encompass different locations, and thematically they range from the history of childhood in Iran to matters of socio-cultural integration in Austria; from legal matters concerning youths in Algeria to socio-psychological problems of schoolchildren in Lebanon and to parent-child dynamics in Morocco. The short research, book and conference reports in this issue emphasize approaches and topics in critical anthropology as applied to the Middle East.

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Mater Litigans

Mothering Resistance in Early Eighteenth-Century Rome

Caroline Castiglione

This microhistory analyzes the efforts of a widowed mother, Teresa Boncompagni, to maintain custody of her only daughter, Cornelia. Teresa protested her brother-in-law's legal right to Cornelia's custody. The mother's resistance combined a savvy understanding of the Roman judicial system with an insistence upon the centrality of motherly affection and maternal daily care to the child's well-being. She argued that the concept of free will necessitated a period of childhood exempt from family pressure to marry the man her brother-in-law had chosen. Although Teresa's adversaries pronounced her views outrageous, and maternal affection and advocacy would later be sanitized to include affection but to exclude women's resistance, Teresa's efforts succeeded in convincing even her enemies that a good mother knew how to fight legally and that the emotional bond epitomized by affective mothering was paramount to the healthy development of the child.

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Katrien Vloeberghs

An investigation of discursive characteristics of the child figure shows how they enter into a specific interaction with the conceptualization of the Holocaust. This contribution particularly analyzes manifestations of discontinuous temporality which has been associated both with childhood in various influential literary and philosophical discourses of Modernity and with the literary enactment of the historical reality of the Holocaust. The concentrationist universe and the place of childhood are conceptualized as standing outside linear chronology, though in diverging forms and with different implications. These two discourses mutually influence and change each other, thereby shifting the boundaries of what is deemed to be irrepresentable in Holocaust writing with the eye and the voice of the child.

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Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer

This article focuses on the intertwinement of the Romantic and the Jewish tradition in Maurice Sendak's picture book Dear Mili (1988) whose original text was based on a legend retold by Wilhelm Grimm, the German fairy tale collector. This picture book demonstrates precisely the extent to which the project of writing about Jewish children is influenced by elements of Romantic thought such as proximity to nature, the child as symbol of hope, the contrast between imagination and education, and the new concept of the “strange child”, created by the German Romantic author E.T.A. Hoffmann. Moreover, by juxtaposing Romantic images of childhood with the Shoah, Dear Mili works in multiple dimensions that transcend the meaning of the original story thus transforming it into both a timeless parable about the perpetual menace to children from war, violence and loneliness and a historicised narrative about the Holocaust.

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Writing Childhoods, Righting Memory

Intergenerational Remembrance in Post-communist Romania

Codruta Alina Pohrib

This article traces different appropriations of intergenerational memory in post-communist Romania in three non-formal educational texts: the pop-up book The Golden Age for Children; Ȋn faţa blocului (Outside the apartment building), a collection of outdoor games that defined the generations of the 1970s and 1980s; and Elev în Comunism (Students during the communist regime), which comprises first person narratives by teenagers imagining their lives as pupils under communism. I flesh out the stakes involved in correcting, repurposing, or capitalizing on nostalgic remembrances of the communist past, which are or may be passed on to children by their parents who grew up under communism, paying close attention to expectations from and pressures on the family as a privileged site of memory transmission.

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“Has Anyone Seen the Boy?”

The Fate of the Boy in Becoming a Man

Miles Groth

The topic of this article is the psychological meaning and consequences of the repression of a male’s experience of being a boy in the course of his socialization to manhood. Although the eradication of the sense of being a boy is a requirement for attaining manhood in nearly all cultures, the boy remains psychologically alive, although hidden, in the older male. The features of boyhood, why boys often frighten us, and why boys nonetheless enchant both males and females are discussed. An explanation of our ambivalence about boys is found in their anatomy, kinetic physicality, distinctive early experiences with their father, and residual characteristics of the boy’s early relationship with his mother and the feminine. The article concludes with some observations about what a genuine harmonization in a male of the boy with the man might mean for a man’s relations with his father, his sons, other males, and females.

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Jonathan Anuik

Melissa Bingmann. 2015. Prep School Cowboys: Ranch Schools in the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 256 pp. ISBN 978-0826355430

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Mohamed Assaf and Kate Clanchy

Five poems written by Mohamed Assaf (a young Syrian boy who currently lives in Oxford with his family and studies at Oxford Spires Academy) under the mentorship of the poet Kate Clanchy. The introduction and poems themselves offer a reflection on Mohamed’s old and new place(s) in the world, and the significance of writing as a way of responding to, and resisting, “refugeedom.”