My first book, Revolutions at Home: The Origin of Modern Childhood and the German Middle Class, will be published in July 2021 by the University of Massachusetts Press through the Childhoods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Childhood and Youth series.
How did we come to imagine what “ideal childhood” requires? Beginning in the late eighteenth century, German child-rearing radically transformed, and as these innovations in ideology and educational practice spread from middle-class families across European society, childhood came to be seen as a life stage critical to self-formation. This new approach was in part a process that adults imposed on youth, one that hinged on motivating children’s behavior through affection and cultivating internal discipline. But this is not just a story about parents’ and pedagogues’ efforts to shape childhood. Offering rare glimpses of young students’ diaries, letters, and marginalia, I reveal how children themselves negotiated these changes.
Revolutions at Home analyzes a rich set of documents created for and by young Germans to show that children were central to reinventing their own education between 1770 and 1850. Through their reading and writing, they helped construct the modern child subject. The active child who emerged at this time was not simply a consequence of expanding literacy but, in fact, a key participant in defining modern life.
“Bruce compellingly demonstrates how German pedagogues, authors of children’s tales, and children themselves constructed a new ‘childhood subjectivity.’ This study will appeal to readers interested in the histories of childhood, education, and German middle-class identity, as well as anyone curious about the origins of classics like Grimm’s fairy tales.”—Anna Kuxhausen, author of From the Womb to the Body Politic: Raising the Nation in Enlightenment Russia
“A new and valuable contribution to the growing literature on children’s literacy and writing.”—Andrea Immel, author of Childhood and Children’s Books in Early Modern Europe, 1550–1800
The research for Revolutions at Home was generously supported by:
- The University of Minnesota: Imagine Fund and Faculty Research Enhancement Funds
- The National Academy of Education / The Spencer Foundation: Dissertation Fellowship, 2012-2013
- Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (German Academic Exchange Service): Research Grant, 2011-2012
- The Conference Group for Central European History
- The University of Minnesota Graduate School (2007-2008, 2010-2011), College of Liberal Arts, History Department, and Center for German & European Studies (Hella Mears Graduate Fellowship in European Studies, 2012)
- The Friends of the Princeton University Library: Research Grant, 2011
Revolutions at Home is based partly on documents from state and city archives across Germany. It also draws on the holdings of libraries with extensive collections of books published for children and youth. Here are links to some of those institutions:
Historical Collections of Children’s Books
- Kinder- und Jugendbuchabteilung, Staatsbibliothek Berlin (Children’s and Young People’s Literature Department, State Library Berlin)
- Cotsen Children’s Library: Princeton, NJ
- Bibliothèque l’Heure joyeuse (Library of the Joyful Hour): Paris, France
- Georg-Eckert Institut für Internationale Schulbuchforschung (Georg-Eckert Institute for International Schoolbook Research): Braunschweig, Germany
- Bibliothek für Bildungsgeschichtliche Forschung (Research Library for the History of Education): Berlin, Germany
- Institut für Jugendbuchforschung (Institute for Youth Literature Research): Frankfurt, Germany
- ALEKI – Arbeitsstelle für Kinder- und Jugendmedienforschung (Center for Children’s and Young Adult Media Research): Cologne, Germany