The depictions of childhoods in fiction and their changes over time reflect the changing values of a society.
A new book, Children and Childhoods in L.M. Montgomery: Continuing Conversations, co-edited by Dr. Rita Bode and Dr. Margaret Steffler of Trent University with others, explores the ways in which Lucy Maude Montgomery’s fiction depicts the social place of children and how that position has changed over time. The volume was supported by funding from the Symons Trust Fund for Canadian Studies and is the result of a national collaboration between interdisciplinary researchers in literary studies, child and youth studies and Canadian studies. “Children, their status and treatment, often offer a way of measuring a society’s values. Montgomery was keenly aware of this; her fiction explores the emotional and psychological worlds of children that the adult world often overlooks to the detriment of children,” said Professor Rita Bode of the importance of critically examining literary works to glean insights applicable to modern society. “By placing her own child characters in dialogue with other literary children, she opens up a means of exploring the ways in which cultural and social mores shift over time.”
Researchers contributing to the collection also drew on the influential theories of Marah Gubar, using the Kinship Model of a continuum of childhood and adulthood experience to frame a more nuanced and accurate picture of both child and adult experiences. Children and Childhoods in L.M. Montgomery: Continuing Conversations was published by McGill-Queen’s University press.