Childhood in Canadian Culture AP/Huma 4140A 

Childhood in Canadian Culture is a fourth year Children's Studies seminar that explores the human condition of childhood as portrayed and experienced in Canadian culture over time. It explores the relationship between children and nationhood and the role that culture plays in creating that relationship, as well as helping us understand it. We draw on the theoretical work of Michel Foucault, Benedict Anderson, Raymond Williams and Roland Barthes as well as contemporary thinkers and artists to help us theorize the changing position of the young within the nation. While the course takes a visual culture approach, using film, photography, visual art, and popular culture, our understanding of “culture” is broader. For us culture includes Canadian culture, children’s culture, and how those cultures intersect with the historical culture of imperialism and the contemporary cultures of globalization.

The course is organized into four case studies that allow us to explore these layered relationships from the eve of confederation to the present. The first half of the course (seminars 1 – 12) looks at the past and the resonance of the past within the present through two texts, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s internationally famous child, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables fame, and the strange tale of Canada’s national anthem. The second half of the course (seminars 13-24) focuses on the 1960s, the time of Canada’s 100 year birthday, and closes with an in depth look at multicultural Toronto in 2010 through an in depth look at the experiences of childhood and adolescence in one community.