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Childhood Studies Scholars from Across Canada Share Research at Trent

The first symposium on childhood studies of its kind brings interdisciplinarity to Canadian childhood

The first symposium of its kind, Canadian Childhood and Adolescence: Blueprinting the Past, Present and Future, presented by the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies, took place in Bagnani Hall at Traill College on October 28 and 29, 2011. Scholars in the field of Childhood Studies from four provinces and with backgrounds in history, English literature, cultural studies, Indigenous studies, women’s & gender studies and education, gathered together to share research with Trent students, faculty and staff, and visiting panellists.

“This was the first symposium of its kind – outside the formal conferences where scholars in the field gather every year or two,” said Mr. James Onusko, Ph.D. candidate in Canadian Studies at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and co-organizer of the event. “We wanted to bring together scholars from the broad field of childhood studies, and many attendees expressed their pleasure in being exposed to theory and methodologies they do not necessarily engage with in their research.”

Dr. Joan Sangster, dean of Graduate Studies, co-organized the event with Mr. Onusko. The event was grouped into three panels: Representing Childhood; Experiencing Different Childhoods; and Sexuality, Body and Health in Childhood and Adolesence. Papers presented by the panellists were well received and stimulated good discussion during the lively question and answer sessions.

The symposium opened on Friday night with a keynote address from Dr. Tamara Myers from the University of British Columbia. Professor Myers’ presentation “Contemplative Gazing: Exploring Visual Narratives of 1960s Childhood and Youth”, explored some of the preliminary research she has begun involving the history of children and youth, with a particular interest in the Miles for Millions walkathons, youth activism and global consciousness in 1960s and 1970s Canada.

Drs. Margaret Steffler,  John Milloy and Karleen Pendleton-Jimenez of Trent University presented papers as panellists. Professor Steffler of the Department of English Literature, presented “Representations of the Quirky, Sassy and Deviant Girl in Twenty –First Century Canadian Fiction”, Dr. John Milloy of the Frost Centre of Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies presented “Rhetoric and Reality: The Child and Parent in INAC’s Developmental Strategies, 1830 – 1980” and Dr. Karleen Pendleton-Jimenez of the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies presented “Pink Cleats and Country Trucks: Youth and Gender Pride in Peterborough and Beyond”.

Other panellists included: Mavis Reimer (University of Winnipeg) who presented “Reel People, Reel Places: The Discourse of the Real and Recent Films About Street Kids”; Tarah Brookfield (Wilfrid Laurier University) presenting “Making and Breaking the Script: Interpreting Correspondence Between International Foster Children and Canadian Parents”; Mary Anne Poutanen (Concordia University) with “Wee Kiddies on Picket Duty: Exploring Class and Agency at Montreal’s Aberdeen School, 1913”; Magda Fahrni (Université du Québec à Montréal) presenting “Enfants ignorant, insouciants et imprudent: Explaining Childhood Accidents, 1890 – 1935”; Sharon Wall (University of Winnipeg) with “Age as a category of historical analysis: New Windows on to the History of Childhood and Youth”; and Mona Gleason (University of British Columbia) with “Embodied Difference: Implications for Historians”.

Childhood Studies is a growing interdisciplinary field, attracting scholars from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. In total, approximately 60 members of the Trent community attended the symposium, which Mr. Onusko hopes will continue to flourish in coming years. “With Trent’s worldwide reputation for fostering and promoting interdisciplinary research, this symposium reflected those ongoing goals,” he says. “Graduate and undergraduate students who attended were exposed to some of the top scholars in the field. With much of the research presented still in working stages it was a fascinating opportunity to see how more senior scholars work through the intellectual process.”


Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011.

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