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Learning to laugh : children and being human in early modern thought

Fudge, Erica (2006) Learning to laugh : children and being human in early modern thought. In: Childhood and children's books in early modern europe, 1550 - 1800. Routledge, London and New York, pp. 19-39. ISBN 9780415803632

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Abstract

This volume of fourteen original essays written by historians and literary scholars explores childhood and children's books in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800. The collection contributes towards repositioning childhood as a compelling presence in early modern imagination - a ready emblem of innocence, mischief and playfulness. The essays present a wide-ranging basis for reconceptualizing the development of a separate literature for children as central to evolving early modern concepts of human development and socialization. Topics covered include: constructs of literacy as revealed by the figure of "Goody Two Shoes"; notions of pedagogy and academic standards; a reception study of children's reading based on book purchases made by Rugby school boys in the late eighteenth century; an analysis of the first international bestseller for children, the Abbe Pluche's "Spectacle de la nature"; and the commodification of child performers in Jacobean comedies.