Oct 18, 2018 - Understanding Childhood

October 18, 2018
3:30 pm | Andy’s Place (AH100)

Understanding Childhood

From primates to literary representations of childhood join Canada Research Chair, Louise Barrett, and, Associate Professor of English, Elizabeth Galway in exploring comparative perspectives on the notion of childhood.  


Take Two Series: Understanding Childhood

Louise Barrett | Psychology

Primates, including humans, have much larger brains and experience an extended juvenile period compared to other mammals of similar size. The unpredictable, complex niches occupied by the primates are argued to have selected for both of these traits, enabling young animals to learn the ecological and social skills needed to function effectively as adults. Viewing childhood in comparative perspective highlights what makes humans distinctive among the primates, and exposes some of the myths that surround the notion of a “good” childhood.


Elizabeth Galway | English

From Anne of Green Gables to Harry Potter, literary representations of childhood have had a profound impact on our collective notion of what it means to be a child.  Literature can help us understand childhood, but it also plays a fundamental role in constructing and defining it in the first place. Childhood, as a product of the adult imagination, is shaped by adult hopes, anxieties, biases, and desires, and literary images of childhood can have real and lasting impacts on how readers of all ages understand their identities as children and adults.