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The Biologically Vulnerable Boy

Framing Sex Differences in Childhood Infectious Disease Mortality

Heather T. Battles

Demographers have noticed longer adult female life expectancies and higher rates of male infant mortality in Europe as early as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During the Western demographic and epidemiologic transition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, infant and childhood mortality rates became increasingly male-skewed. I examine the changing awareness and understanding of sex differentials in childhood infectious disease mortality and the discourse surrounding them in the medical and epidemiological literature, with particular focus on discussions surrounding diphtheria. I identify the emergence of the concept of males as the weaker sex (the “biological hypothesis”) and the framing of boys as biologically vulnerable, and argue that these are products of this historical period, linked not only to observed epidemiological patterns but also to changing ideas of children and childhood and the shift in science and medicine toward the laboratory as the source of knowledge.

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Who (the) Girls and Boys Are

Gender Nonconformity in Middle-Grade Fiction

Michele Byers

In this article I use four middle-grade novels to query the relationship between gendered forms of childhood and gender nonconformity in tweens. For the young characters in these novels, objects and spaces of gender enfranchisement— including gendered forms of childhood—are often out of reach. Using conceptual tools such as the orientation of objects, queer futures, and the transgender gaze, this work examines the ways in which these novels narrate their main characters’ yearning for things that will make their gender identities legible, and how they, as agentic subjects, attempt to take revenge on the rules and structures of gender normativity.

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Shiran Avni

This article examines the way in which Meir Wieseltier’s translation of Macbeth into Hebrew affects the way Shakespeare’s play is perceived by young Israeli readers. I argue that Hebrew, being the language of the Bible and studied by Israeli youth from childhood, creates instant allusions and intertexts, and therefore alters the way the play is perceived in Israel today.

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'From the Land Where the Word Balloons Throw Shadows'

An Interview with Anke Feuchtenberger

Mark David Nevins and Anke Feuchtenberger

Anke Feuchtenberger is a German avant-garde cartoon artist (b. 1963) with a strongly caricatural style. In this interview she discusses her childhood and education in former East Germany, historical influences upon her - including Rodolphe Töpffer - and current inspiration, as well as creational techniques and work in progress. In a further section the artist provides direct analysis of several of her publications.

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Crossdressing Dansō

Negotiating between Stereotypical Femininity and Self-expression in Patriarchal Japan

Marta Fanasca

In this article, I focus on the childhood and adolescent life experiences of dansō (female-to-male crossdressers) who work as escorts in contemporary Japan, and on the process that led to their presentation of self as gendered masculine in their private and working lives. During their childhood and adolescence, dansō have to negotiate their identity and self-presentation to adhere to the gendered pressures of Japanese society. Through an analysis of interviews undertaken with 14 dansō informants, I explore dansō’s construction of a male identity before adulthood, highlighting the societal impositions they experienced and the coping strategies to which they resorted in order to create and maintain a space in which to express their queer selves.

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Gilbert J. Rose

Examining his childhood portrait over many months within the safety and resonance of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, an older patient recovered lost childhood feelings. His viewing the picture with motoric empathy points up a crucial relation of motion to affect in all nonverbal art, namely, affecto-motor sublimation. How do artist's affects become transformed and embedded in art and music to stimulate affective responses? The artist's kinesthetic somatic tension and release are personal expressive substrates of the affects that accompany the making of art. Using artistic tools to regulate the salience of perceptual features, the somatic tension and release of affect turns into the virtual implicit motion of tonal/visual gestures of music/art; thence, transformed by a receptive receiver back into the somatic tension and release appropriate to his/her own personal, kinesthetic, affective response.

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David Lethbridge

Sartre's phobia of crabs is traced through his experimental experience with mescaline and such literary works as Nausea, The Words and The Condemned of Altona. The phobia is analysed through an examination of Sartre's biphasic childhood Oedipus complex and attendant castration anxiety relating to his mother, father and stepfather. Finally, the question is raised of what the existence of unconscious phobias might imply about the relations between existentialism and psychoanalysis.

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Stuart Matlins

Jewish Lights may look like a book-publishing company, but it really is an outreach programme. It grew out of my discovery as an adult of a Judaism rich in relevance to my life that was beyond anything I had imagined. Memories of childhood attending an Orthodox Yeshiva in the Bronx, and the synagogue led by the rabbi who wrote just a few years ago that the Reform and Conservative movements are not legitimate expressions of Judaism, were not inspiring.

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Tough Guys, Tattle-Tales, and Tears

Hollywood Defines the American Boy, 1930–1934

Peter Lee

This essay examines the portrayals of boys in American film, especially Jackie Cooper, during the “pre-code” period of Hollywood sound films, roughly 1930-1934. With the Great Depression cutting movie attendance, studios explored social taboos to entice audiences. As a result, childhood concerns, including issues of adoption, strained parental (especially father-son) relationships, or failing before one’s peers, were themes that threatened boys’ identities.

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Mapping Motherhood

Girls as Mothers in Contemporary Russia

Nadya Nartova

In this article, I analyze 30 biographical interviews with women who had given birth to a child before they turned 18. I discuss the discursive work that these girls do to develop their maternal practices as good and correct, and to normalize early motherhood in their biography in general. The informants see having a child as a line of discontinuity between their disadvantaged childhood and their self-reliant autonomous adulthood. At the same time, they define the idea of good motherhood not only through the internalization of, and compliance with, the dominant cultural codes, but also by relying on the biographical experience they have had.