Professor of Childhood Studies
Professor Conrad teaches courses on childhood studies and critical youth studies with a particular focus on the convergence of psychological, social, and literary analysis. Her current scholarship involves taking young people seriously as poets and is the subject of her book project, Time for Childhoods: Young Poets and Questions of Agency. Her 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’s Special Issue on Children’s Rights and Children’s Literature.
She is on the steering committee of the Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth, and Learning program.
John Wall has written that "children's rights are arguably the major human rights challenge of the twenty-first century." In this course, we will critically explore approaches, controversies, ambiguities, and promise related to theory and practice concerning the rights of people under the age of 18. We will review the emergence across the twentieth century of international human rights approaches to children's rights, culminating in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and examine why the United States remains the only UN member state that has not ratified the UN Convention. We will consider domestic and global examples of contemporary structures and practices that support young people's active, participatory roles in their societies. A central component of the course will be students' project-based research on particular topics related to children's rights. This semester, the course will incorporate attention to children's rights perspectives on climate change.
This seminar in social and literary studies of childhood will take up multiple perspectives on young people as writers of poetry. We will explore the work of recent scholars in childhood studies, literary studies, children's literature studies, and critical literacy studies who contemplate questions about young people as consumers and/or producers of culture; as potential poets in the future and/or actual poets in the present; as objects of adult teachers' pedagogical ideas and/or as subjects producing and performing their own ideas and artistry. Examples of youth-written poetry are drawn largely from late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century US contexts. The course involves collaborating with young people on poetry projects. Previous coursework in childhood studies or poetry is recommended.
This interdisciplinary course will combine critical approaches to childhoods with critical studies of literature. We will work on literary texts written for adults that feature children as subjects together with texts written for a young audience and some written by young people. We will explore questions about the representation of children and childhoods; children's agency; memory, loss, displacement, and resilience; and childhoods, imagination, and language. While we will read primarily English-language texts, we will also critically consider the canon of "fictions of childhood." This course is pitched at the Division II level and is not recommended for first-semester students.