CfP, Under Control: Childhood and 20th Century Dictatorships (1917-1991), University of Warwick, 19 May 2016


Under Control: Childhood and 20th Century Dictatorships (1917-1991), University of Warwick, 19 May 2016

University of Warwick, Thursday 19 May 2016

Deadline for submission: 30 November 2015

Confirmed Keynote speakers

Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (University of Warwick)

Dr. Nick Baron (University of Nottingham)

Since the early Nineteenth century, childhood has been viewed as both a privileged condition for creative inspiration (mostly in the arts) and a decisive phase in the development of adult subjectivity (usually in scientific fields). Such centrality of childhood acquired particular importance in the Twentieth century. At the time, in fact, political systems – and especially dictatorships – began to understand children as a crucial national resource and therefore tried to exercise influence on them through educational policies and a wide range of cultural means.

At the root of this phenomenon lies the awareness that children’s cognitive development is based on processes of assimilation and accommodation of external inputs. Consequently, future adults may have their thoughts and perceptions shaped by many tools, from toys to the language of education.

By encompassing in the notion of dictatorship both absolute forms of power, such as totalitarianisms, and military dictatorships, the aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to investigate how last century dictatorial regimes tried to control and mould children, focusing on the mechanisms and instruments devised for that purpose. Possible, but not exclusive, case studies will include: Russia (1917-1991), Italy (1922 – 1945), Portugal (1932 – 1974), Germany (1933-1945), Spain (1939-1975), Argentina (1976-1983) and Chile (1973-1990).

Scholars from several disciplines including literature, cultural studies, history, philosophy, psychology, media studies and pedagogy are invited to give their contribution. We will welcome proposals focusing on theoretical issues, transnational perspectives and specific case studies.

Possible themes may include (but are not limited to):

  • Instruments of control over children

To what extent did literature, textbooks, cinema, radio, TV broadcasting, the visual arts and education (embracing also youth organizations) attempt to shape children’s thinking and perception?

  • The mechanisms at the root of control

How do literary and cultural studies, psychology, philosophy and pedagogy approach issues surrounding the control and manipulation of children?

  • Historical perspectives

What are the continuities and discontinuities between Twentieth-century dictatorships in relation to their commitment to children’s education and leisure?

Please submit by 30th November 2015 a 300-word proposal for 20-minute papers and a short curriculum vitae (300 words) to Valentina Abbatelli and Paola Roccella Acceptance of proposals will be communicated by 7th December 2015.

For further info see