Virtual workshop - The child: An object of curiosity in modern science and entertainment
December 11th 2020, 9:00-15:00 / Online
Virtual workshop organized by Andrea Graus (Centre Alexandre-Koyré, CNRS) and Andreas Mayer (Centre Alexandre-Koyré / Centre Marc Bloch, CNRS).
This workshop aims to look at the child as an object of appeal arousing passions and curiosity in the laboratory and the stage, both during modernity and our current day society. It searches to pay special attention to the way knowledge, practices and representations of the child in science and entertainment interplay. Within the scientific and public arena, children are both tested and put to the test. Different typologies of children emerge: from the gifted, the deviant, the innocent and the wild child, to the musical prodigy and the child star. These children may even inhabit both grounds, becoming experimental subjects and public performers, and attracting scholarly and popular attention at the same time.
Their appeal, either negative or positive, is the result of an adult look. They are, indeed, adults (psychologists, teachers, parents, journalists, managers…) those who have studied, promoted, feared or adulated children in the scientific and cultural sphere. When it comes to the modern child, these two spheres often intertwine, with knowledge circulating between them. Examining the modern fascination for the child in science and entertainment, and the practices, knowledge and representations emerging from such appeal, reflects the desires and anxieties of a given society: from the concern to protect children, to the craving to consume them as spectacle.
Contact and information: andrea [dot] graus [at] cnrs [dot] fr.
9:00 Welcome words
9:15-10:00. Jonas Traudes (University of Cologne)
Adoration and observation: Musical ‘child prodigies’ in the entertainment culture of the 18th and 19th centuries
10:00-10:45. Jane O’Connor (Birmingham City University)
The history and cultural significance of child stars
11:00-11:45. Andrea Graus (Centre Alexandre-Koyré, CNRS)
The chess prodigy Samuel Reshevsky: Between child star and psychological subject
11:45-12:30. Felix Rietmann (University of Fribourg)
The baby on the screen: Scientific popularization in late 20th century infant mental health
12:30-13:30 Lunch Break
13:30-14:15. Annette Mülberger (University of Groningen)
The gifted child: The management of intelligence in the 1920s and 1930s
14:15-15:00. Andreas Mayer (Centre Alexandre-Koyré / Centre Marc Bloch, CNRS)
Final commentary and discussion
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