Inventing the Child
Culture, Ideology and the Story of the Child
Garland Science – 2000 – 256 pages
This book traces the historical roots of Western culture's stories of childhood in which the child is subjugated to the adult. Going back 400 years, it looks again at Hamlet, fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, and Walt Disney cartoons. Inventing the Child is a highly entertaining, humorous, and at times acerbic account of what it means to be a child (and a parent) in America at the dawn of the new millennium. John Zornado explores the history and development of the concept of childhood, starting with the works of Calvin, Freud, and Rousseau and culminating with the modern "consumer" childhood of Dr. Spock and television. The volume discusses major media depictions of childhood and examines the ways in which parents use different forms of media to swaddle, educate, and entertain their children. Zornado argues that the stories we tell our children contain the ideologies of the dominant culture--which, more often than not, promote "happiness" at all costs, materialism as the way to happiness, and above all, obedience to the dominant order.