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.
Professor Conrad’s 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.
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.
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 country that has not ratified the UN Convention. We will examine global examples of contemporary structures and practices that support young people's active, participatory roles in advocating for children's rights, such as children's parliaments and youth committees. A central component of the course will be students' project-based research on particular topics related to children's rights.
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 involves collaborating with young people in a high school English class. Previous coursework in childhood studies or poetry is recommended.
In this advanced seminar we will critically examine ideas about children and youth through readings in childhood and youth studies, sociology of childhood, and critical developmental psychology. An important component of students' work in this course is to critically evaluate ideas, practices, and methodologies related to childhood and youth in their own academic studies, including areas not listed above such as anthropology, history, education, and the arts. This course is recommended for students whose Division II concentration intersects with the Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth, and Learning (CYL) program. As it includes culminating work, it is particularly appropriate for students in the final semester of Division II.
In this advanced seminar we will use poetry as a site of thinking about children and childhood. 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 poetry writing and analytic writing, and one project that requires scheduling outside of class time. Previous coursework in childhood studies and creative writing is recommended.