Rachel Conrad, professor of childhood studies, has 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.
She is interested in exploring ideas about childhood and youth through the convergence of psychological, social, and literary analysis.
Her current work explores adults’ conceptions of children’s subjectivity in twentieth century American poetry, both poetry about childhood and poetry for children.
This interdisciplinary course will combine critical studies of literature with critical approaches to childhood and psychological and psychoanalytic perspectives (particularly the writings of D. W. Winnicott). This course focuses on literary texts written for adults that feature children as subjects as well as texts written for a child audience. We will explore questions about the representation of children and childhood; the relation of child and adult worlds; childhood and memory or forbidden knowledge; and children, imagination, and language. First year students considering this class need to contact one of the instructors. The class will be pitched at the Division II level and will presume strong reading and writing skills.
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. This semester, the course will involve collaboration with youth at a local high school. Previous coursework in childhood studies, literature, or creative writing is recommended.
How do we understand childhoods as temporary states of being, and childhood itself as a temporal construct? How does time play a role across children's lives? How might children's ideas about and experiences of time differ from adults' ideas about and experiences of time? How do children imagine time in relation to themselves? In this course we explore time and temporality as a window onto children's self-experiences and adults' ideas about children and childhood. We will explore perspectives on time and childhood through readings in sociology, psychology, children's literature, and childhood studies, and a combination of analytic and creative assignments. Students are invited to integrate their interest in particular artistic media with their social analytic work.
In this advanced seminar we will use poetry as a site of thinking about children and childhood in the U.S. We will consider questions of power, perspective, and experience regarding children and adults, examine works primarily in 20th century American poetry, and explore poetry-writing in relation to thinking about children and childhood. Our goal will be to balance attention to questions about ideas with questions about creative form. Readings will include poetry written by adults for adult audiences, poetry written by adults for young audiences, and poetry written by young people, supplemented by readings in childhood studies and literary criticism. Assignments will encompass analytic writing and weekly poetry writing. Previous coursework in childhood studies and creative writing is strongly recommended.
Professor of Childhood Studies
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall 205
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002