Rachel Conrad

Professor of Childhood Studies
Hampshire College Professor Rachel Conrad
Contact Rachel

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Rachel Conrad
Franklin Patterson Hall 205
413.559.5394

Rachel Conrad, professor of childhood studies, teaches interdisciplinary courses on critical childhood and youth studies, twentieth- and twenty-first century poetry of childhood, and youth-authored texts. Her courses focus on centering young people’s participation, cultural creation, and political action and activism. She holds an A.B. in English and American literature and Language from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Professor Conrad’s scholarship integrates critical social studies of childhood and literary studies in recovering and reading youth-authored texts, as in her book on young poets, Time for Childhoods: Young Poets and Questions of Agency (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020). Together with Hampshire Professor Emerita of Literature L. Brown Kennedy, she co-edited Literary Cultures and Twentieth-Century Childhoods (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), and she has published work on texts by contemporary young climate activists. Her current project focuses on poetry written by young African-American poets in the 1960s and 1970s. Conrad’s essays have appeared in Childhood: A Journal of Global Child Research; Children’s Literature Association Quarterly; Callaloo: Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters; Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures; and The Lion and the Unicorn.

Professor Conrad welcomes advising students interested in young people, children’s rights, poetry, youth-produced culture, critical children’s literature, critical approaches to psychology and education, and interdisciplinary projects across the arts, humanities, and critical social sciences.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • For what and whose purposes do young writers write, and how are these purposes represented in our literary, cultural, and political worlds? How can works by young writers be read as literary texts, and how can adults facilitate opportunities for young writers? How do young writers engage with themes of injustice and oppression? This course integrates literary studies and critical youth studies in reframing young writers as cultural producers and participants in literary culture. We will focus on case studies in genres of diary/memoir and poetry including: young white Jewish writer Anne Frank whose Diary of a Young Girl was written in hiding in Amsterdam during World War II; and Vanessa Howard and other young Black poets who wrote in the US during the 1960s and early 1970s Civil Rights movement. Keywords: children, youth, literature, poetry, memoir

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  • Young activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has written that "the youth of the world are continuing to rise to power and shape our culture." In this course, we will examine texts written by youth, and youth action and activism primarily in the contemporary U.S., as forms of enacting such power and shaping. We will use methods from critical youth studies and literary studies to take seriously young people's literary, cultural and social-political engagements. In focusing on young people writing and taking action for racial, environmental, and climate justice, we will consider youth-produced texts and action/activism as well as conditions that make possible youth-and-adult collaborations. As part of the Environments and Change Learning Collaborative, we will have the opportunity to engage in collaborative work and projects with a cohort of classes at Hampshire College addressing similar questions from different perspectives to form a learning community. (keywords: youth, children, activism, justice, childhood studies)