History Book Club presents Revolutions at Home: The Origin of Modern Childhood and the German Middle Class

By Emily Bruce
Side by side photo of Dr. Emily Bruce and the cover of her book Revolution at Home
Event Date & Time
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We will begin with an interview of Emily Bruce by MJ Maynes to call attention to the interesting archival research story behind the book and to its innovative approach to making more visible the historical roots of modern Western childhood. This will be followed by a Q&A session with attendees.

About the book

Revolutions at Home: The Origin of Modern Childhood and the German Middle Class

(University of Massachusetts Press, July 2021)

How did we imagine what “ideal childhood” requires? Beginning in the late eighteenth century, German child-rearing radically transformed, and as these innovations in ideology and educational practice spread from middle-class families across European society, childhood came to be seen as a life stage critical to self-formation.

This new approach was in part a process that adults imposed on youth, one that hinged on motivating children’s behavior through affection and cultivating internal discipline.

But this is not just a story about parents’ and pedagogues’ efforts to shape childhood. Offering rare glimpses of young students’ diaries, letters, and marginalia, I reveal how children themselves negotiated these changes.

About the speakers

Emily Bruce

Emily Bruce is a historian of modern Europe, with research specialties in the history of childhood, gender, and education.

Since August 2017, she has been an assistant professor of history at the University of Minnesota Morris, teaching modern European and world history; She is also an affiliated faculty member of the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

She received her PhD from the history department at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2015, where her dissertation, Reading Agency: The Making of Modern German Childhoods in the Age of Revolutions, received the Best Dissertation Award in Arts & Humanities in 2016.

On the Twin Cities campus, she also worked as a graduate writing consultant in the Center for Writing.

MJ Mayes

MJ Maynes is a professor of history at the University of Minnesota. She is a historian of Modern Europe with interests in comparative and world history.

Her research and teaching explores the social and cultural history of the family, gender and generational relations, class dynamics, and personal narratives.

Her books include: Children and youth as subjects, objects, agents: innovative approaches to research across space and time, co-edited with Deborah Levison and Frances Vavrus (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), The Family: A World History (Oxford, 2012), co-authored with Ann Waltner; Telling Stories: The Use of Personal Narratives in the Social Sciences and History (Cornell, 2008), co-authored with Jennifer Pierce and Barbara Laslett; and Secret Gardens, Satanic Mills: Placing Girls in European History (Indiana, 2004). She has co-edited special issues of Social Science History on “Temporalities and Periodization in Human History: Conversations across the Disciplines of History and Archaeology” (2012), with Ann Waltner, and of Gender & History on “Gender History across Epistemologies” (2012), with Donna Gabaccia.

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