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The History of Childhood

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor Hugh Cunningham (University of Kent) explores the historical development of childhood from the early modern period to the present. In the first lecture, we consider Philippe Ariès’ hugely influential insights regarding the historical construction of childhood since the Middle Ages. In the second lecture, we think about the shift in the early modern period from a negative perception of childhood linked to Protestant theology to a positive, secular vision. In the third lecture, we discuss the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on childhood in the nineteenth century. Next, we look at whether the twentieth century should be considered the “century of the child”. In the fifth and final lecture, we ask whether childhood is under threat.

About the Lecturer

Professor Hugh Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent. He specialises in the history of childhood, youth and charity in modern Britain. His recent publications include The Reputation of Philanthropy Since 1750 (2020), Time, Work and Leisure: Life Changes in England Since 1700 (2014), and The Invention of Childhood (2006).