More Books Back to UIUC

So many books, so much time they took...

-White, A Historical Introduction to Library Education (kept TofC and a xeroxed section of pages related to youth services work)
-Hopkins, History of the YMCA in North America
-Macleod, Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920. Useful because it gave me background on Ernest Seton Thompson, who spoke to the first class of children's librarian trainees (along with John Dewey, Jane Addams, and others). (xeroxing TofC and a few select pages re discouragement of fiction reading in 1870s)

Histories of the Kindergarten Movement
-Ross, The Kindergarten Crusade
-Liebschner, A Child's Work: Freedom and Play in Froebel's Educational Theory and Practice
-Shapiro, Child's Garden. This was another book I encountered early in the process. Lots of stickies to remove, but ultimately all I really want to keep is the TofC.

Other Social Movements Related to Childhood:
-Cavallo, Muscles and Morals: Organized Playgrounds and Urban Reform, 1880-1920.
-Davis, Spearheads for Reform: The Social Settlements and the Progressive Movement, 1890-1914.
-Lynn and Wright, The Big Little School: Sunday Child of American Protestantism
-Boylan, Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution, 1790-1880.
-Dunning, The Sunday-School Library (primary source)
-Foote, The Librarian of the Sunday School (primary source)
-Tolman, Libraries and Lyceums (1937(?) thesis facsimilie)
-Bode, The American Lyceum: Town Meeting of the Mind
-Stoddard, The American Lyceum

Schools and Educational Movements
-Ross, G. Stanley Hall: The Psychologist as Prophet (biography)
-Martin, The Education of John Dewey (biography)
-Davis, American Heroine (biography of Jane Addams)
-Linn, Jane Addams: A Biography
-Gutek, Pestalozzi and Education
-Sugg, Motherteacher: The Feminization of American Education
-Perlmann and Margo, Women's Work?: American Schoolteachers, 1650-1920
-Holmes and Weiss, Lives of Women Public Schoolteachers
-Ogren, The American State Normal School
-Herbst, And Sadly Teach
-Ensign, Compulsory School Attendance and Child Labor (reprints of primary sources)

Four Sources Worth Revisiting:
-Tyack, Turning Points in American Educational History (reprints of primary sources with interpretation)
-Tyack and Hansot, Managers of Virtue: Public School Leadership in America, 1820-1980 (interesting set-up of theoretical approach in intro)
-Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876-1957
-Kaestle and Vinovskis, Education and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts (strong basis in statistical evidence, interesting methodology)

Life in Books

I've read two extraordinary books over the past week, books that have helped me put some of the recent tumult in my life into perspective. They are also scholarly reflections, written by women whose work in the academy has transformed their ways of looking at their own lives.

Bateson, Mary Catherine. Composing a Life.
Bateson, daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, draws on the tradition of ethnography to create this detailed narrative of central themes in the lives of five women. She looks at women's work in an era when feminist ideals were at their height but women's realities were (as they are now) still often at odds with the concepts of equality. She sees lives as processes of negotiation. The chapter "Opening to the World" might be an excellent reading to include as part of the personal narrative portion of the storytelling class. (starts p. 56)

A few quotes....

Related to storytelling and narrative as the basis upon which we shape our lives:
--"Composing a life involves a continual reimagining of the future and reinterpretation of the past to give meaning to the present, remembering best those events that prefigured what followed, forgetting those that proved to have no meaning within the narrative." (p. 29)
--"Storytelling is fundamental to the human search for meaning, whether we tell tales of the creation of the earth or of our own early choices." (p. 34)

Why feminism is still necessary:
--"...two kinds of vulnerability that women raised in our society tend to have. The first is the quality of self-sacrifice, a learned willingness to set their own interests aside and be used and even used up by the community. [...] The second kind of vulnerability trained into women is a readiness to believe messages of disdain and derogation." (p. 54)

On nurturing, caring:
"To be nurturant is not always to concur and comfort, to stroke and flatter and appease; often, it requires offering a caring version of the truth, grounded in reality. Self-care should include the cold shower as well as the scented tub. Real caring requires setting priorities and limits. Even the hard choices of triage have their own tenderness." She goes on to describe how many folktales reward the kind stranger, but that the mythological Psyche provides another model. While searching for Eros, Psyche must resist the cries of others. Bateson writes: "If she is to find her beloved, she must harden herself against inappropriate impulses to help and nurture" (emphasis is mine). (p. 155)

On commitment:
"It may be worthwhile to invest time and resources passionately in support of a cause, but it is wiser to avoid burning bridges or putting on blinkers as the tokens of commitment. A degree of caution need not be equivalent to disloyalty; blindness is not a virtue." (p. 188)
"Today I am unwilling to work from a position of dependent trust, and I believe the capacity to be self-supporting is a precondition to genuine partnership and responsible participation." (p. 189)

Tompkins, Jane. A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned
Strangely, I skipped the childhood portion of this memoir. I'll come back to it, I'm sure, but my main interest this week was in reading the memoir of an academically successful woman. In the end, she critiques the education system "as it is" because it "...fails to help its students find out why they are and where in the world their talents might best be employed...." (p. 217)

I thought how my undergrad education was all passionate self-exploration, and my graduate education (the master's at least) was all learning about the children's departments of public libraries, the place where I thought my talents would be best employed. How rare a creature I may be, one who was able to have all the passion of her early work and the practicality of later work. Unfortunately, Tompkins leaves no room for a oddity such as myself--she tries to "see" the university as a whole, but she is navel-gazing even when she gets beyond the narrow confines of her departmental work. She does not look beyond Duke, does not imagine that there are places (New College and many others) where students do take responsibility for their own education and have at least the opportunity to imagine how they may use it to make the world a better place.

I found myself thinking that she underestimates the disorientation of being young. Even with intellectual passion in full-flower, I did not have the faintest clue about where to place my passions in practical terms--where to get a job. All I knew was what my parents did. I knew early that my father's work (science) was not for me, and, when I considered teaching, my mother (a teacher) told me that I lacked the necessary patience for the work (a cruel thing to say to a young girl searching for a purpose).

I found libraries by pure chance, though looking back it seems predestined. I think the best education in the world cannot prepare a child to become a flourishing adult, to create a place for themselves that is appropriate, meaningful, sustaning, and allows for inventiveness.

Bateson's book, by portraying the paths of women who are praised for their improvisatory lives, is ultimately the most inspiring. It's as though Tompkins collapses under the weight of her own critical theory, failing to find a way to celebrate those that, despite systems that suppress their creativity, nonetheless create a life for themselves out of the brutal pieces that comprise their history. We survive and thrive without perfect educations, without supportive families, seemingly without anything but the wind and the rain, but still some of us do take up the task of composing our lives with relish.

Shelf 2: Books back to UIUC

This is the shelf on women's history, gender history...

General Women's History
-Lerner, Gerda, The Woman in American History
-Lerner, The Majority Finds its Past (edited collection)
These might be useful as I look forward to making an article for the Journal of Women's History, or maybe not... I need to see what they're publishing now to know more, Lerner is, I assume, deep background due to the age of her work.

-Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America
-Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Women's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835.
-Hays, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. Covers too wide a time to be deeply useful to me, but interesting arguments that echo some of what Alma has written and suggested that I read.

-Matthaei, An Economic History of Women in America. This was a major point of reference in writing the dissertation, as background to arguments I wanted to to make about how childhood became important.
-Kessler-Harris, Out to Work. Never did get much into this one...

-Scott, Anne Firor. Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History. Chpt 6 "Inventing 'Progressivism:' Municipal Housekeeping" was the one that caught my eye.

Teaching and Other Professional Histories
-Prentice and Theobald, Women Who Taught: Perspectives on the History of Women and Teaching. Might be more to be gained here, especially from the 1st chapter. Lots of it sounds familiar, which could be a GOOD thing for the prospective J. of Women's Hist. paper, because I can point out the demand-side and supply-side arguments all miss the agency-side, that women were agents actively making their inroads into previously male-dominated professions.

-Gere, Anne Ruggles Intimate Practices: Litearcy and Cultural Work in U. S. Women's Clubs, 1880-1920. Interestingly enough, I feel compelled to look at this book again, at the same time that I remember vaguely thinking that it was squarely outside of the scope of the diss. Probably because I'm so intent on looking at women's professional work. I'd like to find a way to take this into account, somehow, without overgeneralizing about "all women."

Okay, enough again! I realized I forgot to count 2 shelves, so even though I just knocked another one off, I still have 7, maybe 8 more shelves to go. Nevertheless, I am making progress.

Books that are going back to UIUC

There are some important books that are now going to leave my bookshelves, because it's time to turn them in and make the U of I library happy again. I have put my dissertation, in full, up on my website:, linked from "projects," in case you're curious.

This post is more shorthand for myself than news for my readers, but I promise to make the next post interesting to others....

3 major works on Progressive Era history:
-Wiebe The Search for Order
-Hofstadter The Age of Reform
-McGerr A Fierce Discontent

-Glanz Bureaucracy and Professionalism

On Children/Childhood:
-Heininger, ed. A Century of Childhood 1820-1920. Broad overview in intro of Rousseau/Locke influencing Protestant ideas about children, moving from born damned to born innocent, and therefore the responsiblity to raise them well
-Graff, Conflicting Paths: Growing Up in America. Graff argues, using a series of case studies, that childhood in the 19th century was more diverse than at any time before or since, especially in how those children (male, female, black, white, poor, middle-class, rich) came to have education or not, and how they moved from childhood to adulthood. (xerox intro)
-Meckel, Save the Babies: American Public Health Reform and the Prevention of Infant Mortality, 1850-1929.
-Calvert, Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood, 1600-1900. This would certainly be a useful resource for exploration of the material culture of public library children's spaces and other cultural artifacts related to children's reading. I'm xeroxing part iii, which covers 1830-1900.
-Beisel, Imperiled Innocents: Anthony Comstock and Family Reproduction in Victorian America. This was one of the first books I read in the dissertation process, and I really ate it up because it made sense out of the fear of reading that I found in librarians' writings regarding what might cause harm to children. Since then, it has become a background text, but I'm still grateful for its role as an early anchor in my work. I'm removing an inordinate number of sticky notes from this title....
-Ferguson, Growing Pains: Children in the Industrial Age, 1850-1890. This is less directly connected to the industrial revolution than I had hoped. It's more an attempt to do what Mintz does in Huck's Raft, but for a smaller span of years. Again another Twayne Publishers title.

Immigrant Children
-Berrol, Growing Up American: Immigrant Children in America, Then and Now. Twayne History of American Childhood series, 1995. Overview, but not in-depth, b/c time span is too broad and book is 130p.
-Higham, Send These to Me: Immigrants in Urban American. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

Institutions for Children: Asylums, Orphanages, Reform Schools
-Dulberger, "Mother Donit fore the Best:" Correspondence of a Nineteenth-Century Orphan Asylum. Much of this is primary source material, and it feeds into my curiosity about asylums, orphanages, and reform schools in terms of what libraries they had and what books they contained. Further research!
-Brenzel, Daughters of the State: A Social Potrait of the First Reform School for Girls in North American, 1856-1905. Again, like Dulberger, this connects to that to-be-pursued interest about books in institutions for children.
-Cmiel, A Home of Another Kind: One Chicago Orphanage and the Tangle of Child Welfare. As above, linked to those interests. Of the 3 books, this was the one that I enjoyed reading most, and I'll xerox several chapters.
-Ashby, Endangered Children: Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse in American History. Twayne History of American Childhood series, 1997. This provided great background info on the Children's Aid Society in Boston. Xeroxing at least 1 chapter.

-Renier, From Virtue to Character: American Childhood, 1775-1850. Twayne History of American Childhood series, 1996. Especially Chpt 5: Forming Character (to xerox).

This did give me a simple but clear idea: Find out more about the Twayne History of American Childhood series, not only titles but also who is editing now, and think about how to aim my dissertation toward being a book in this series. If that's not the right series, find another publisher that might be closer.

That's one shelf down! Now I only have about 5 shelves of books to go.

Back to fiction for youth adults... Vail and Oates

Rachel Vail, You, Maybe: The Profound Assymetry of Love in High School
Yes, another novel of high-school love. Rachel Vail came along right before the recent explosion of chick lit (back in 1999--I remember her Friendship Ring series causing a splash). What's good about Vail is her ability to go deeper than most into the psychology of young characters' decisions about their lives. In this book, Josie first scorns the attentions of high-school-god Carson Gold, then craves them, and finally we see her internal dialog as she starts to blame herself for every crappy thing he does to her. It's eerily familiar reading, and yet Vail keeps it fresh by showing Josie's step-by-step loss of self. The plot is predictable, but aren't so many high school romance books, really? (Vail's subtitle seems to acknowledge this book as one in an established genre.) Carson likes her less as her independent attitude evaporates, and dumps her just as she has all but fully conformed to his social groups' expectations. And, of course, Josie really is better off without him, her friends take her back... all in all a decent and quick read. The best I would hope for this is that teen readers might see that maintaining independence takes skill, not just attitude and quirky clothes. This remains true after high school as well....

Joyce Carol Oates, After the Wreck I Picked Myself Up, Spread my Wings, and Flew Away
The back cover blurb implies that this is a romance, but it's far more confused than that as a book. Jenna finds herself in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her head. Her mother (and the other driver) died in a head-on collision on a bridge near NYC, and while Jenna survived, it takes a long time for her to understand what's going on. Oates captures this disorientation perfectly, in fragmented prose that swerves between realities. Jenna's father has been absent for several years, is now married with a "new family," and is basically a self-centered jerk, as becomes evidence in his hospital visit. However, even self-centered jerks wish to help someone as wrecked as Jenna has become, and he's clearly distraught when she refuses to come live with him, choosing instead to go to her mother's sister's home. She becomes addicted to painkiller drugs given to her at the hospital, and continues to seek the solace of medication. At her new school, she is so unassertive that most people don't even know her name. She does meet a boy, Crow, who helps her when she has fallen down, and eventually he helps her to overcome her fear of bridges, but the romantic fondness that Jenna feels does not blossom into something more. What I like best about Oates' writing is the prose itself, which captures the brokenness of Jenna's world. It's a quick read for its length, which is about 300 pgs.

Aristotle's Poetics

Can't say as I ever thought I'd be seriously considering teaching a bit of Aristotle, much less the very text in which he describes women as inferior (and slaves as worthless... it was another time, long ago). But I am. Considering it.
Parts I through IX make a handy intro to a totally different way of thinking about storytelling than a public library story hour, an intro that also takes seriously the idea of story writing, not only performance, as part of this task.

Children's Cultural Spaces

I requested the book Learning to Curse for Greenblatt's essay "Towards a Poetics of Culture," with the idea of finding inroads to literary/anthropological ways of addressing children's public culture, and specifically of addressing the public library story hour as an instance of that culture...

That, dear readers, is where I'm heading right now with research, historical and otherwise. I'm about to post a note on the GSLIS board asking folks to relate their memories of public library story hours or any childhood experiences in libraries or museums that they remember.

Do you have such memories? What's most vivid to you about those experiences? Would you post here, in response, or perhaps even be willing to let me informally inteview you at some point? I'm not at a formal stage of interviewing or focus groups, but I may hold a tea in the Center for Children's Books at some point this summer as a way of jumpstarting this conversation.

After all, folks in Library and Info Sci School are likely to have had *something* that spurred them to read as children. So what of those cultural experiences designed with that express intent?

Doubtless these ideas will develop further over time, but this is a start.

as the books come due...

and I am trying to clean out the bookshelves of library titles post-dissertation, I'm realizing that this blog has to become way less entertaining and way more practical for awhile. So it will, with apologies to my loyal readers. I'll try to throw in tidbits for you, but my need to record what I've read is taking precedence for the moment.

Recently Read Things:

--Several articles on children's interactions with an online storytelling environment in Portugal:
This was the better one of the two, but both articles begged the question: why create a computer program to do something kids can do just as easily with a dress-up box? Is it to direct them toward acting out particular stories? It inevitably does this, which raises questions about which stories are selected and how children are enculturated.

--Illick, American Childhoods
This was one of many titles of its ilk that I read parts of and cited in the diss. It is divided into chapters that reflect the different "paths" (to quote Harvey Graff) that children may take through childhood: American Indian, European, African American, Urban Middle-Class, Urban Working-Class. It's the kind of book that is better than so many others in terms of adding specificity to scholarship on each of these forms of childhood, and yet still manages to generalize wildly about each of these groups. Is it fair to critique it for doing so? I'm not sure. It's more the product of the confusing multi-cultural project of representing more groups in historical scholarship while retaining the idea that it's possible to know something meaningful about each of these groups, as a group.

He does mention, in the section on middle-class childhood, the 19thc invention of the birthday party and of Christmas as a child's holiday, which he dates to 1893 and cites Clement along with a 1984 doctoral diss by Calvert from U. of Penn titled To Be a Child: An Analysis of the Artifacts of Childhood (sounds interesting). I'm sure the book How Old Are You gets into the birthday party thing in more detail.

--Welter, Barbara. Dimity Convictions
This was the book CJ steered me towards as a good starting point for 19thc history of women. I'm still not sure why this one struck her as important, though it was a good read. I found the chapter on "The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860" to be useful in thinking about how the cultural role of women resonated with, informed, and even created to some degree the cultural role of the children's librarian. But there were other histories in this area I liked more... I'll have to blog them...

That's all for now. I have a stack at the office that will be getting the same treatment.

books in a pile in my office

I'm probably going to be in clean-out mode for some time to come, which means these posts will continue to be jumbled....

Books Related to Teaching Storytelling:

--Bruner, Jerome Making Stories
I read this while in the hospital for a one-day medical test, so I have odd memories associated with it. (All was well with the test.) Alma Gottlieb recommended it to me, and I found it to be intriguing because it situates story both as an inherent element of the legal system--"The Legal and the Literary," chpt 2--and as the central tool for "The Narrative Creation of Self" (chpt 3).

I'm copying the first chapter, "The Uses of Story," with the idea that it would make a good reflection piece for later in the class, much as I've used the set of three articles by Betsy Hearne for this spring 2007 iteration.

--Thursby, Jacqueline S. Story: A Handbook
Absolutely useful, positively dry as dust. It's not that the definitions, information, and expansive overview given aren't worthwhile--they are deeply worthwhile--but the depth is so shallow that the book reads like a dictionary definition of loosely related terms. Nevertheless, it's current and it's a whirlwind tour of practically everything related to folklore studies, storytelling, and narrative studies, which libraries should definitely own. I'm copying the "Scholarship and Approaches" chapter.

--Dundes, Alan The Study of Folklore
One of many important books by Dundes on the study of folklore. This is an edited collection from 1965, and contains a number of gems from big names in the field at the time (Stith Thompson). I've been distracted from this post by one essay by Bascom on "Four Functions of Folklore." The four functions turn out to be: 1) fantasy, 2) validating culture, 3) education (proverbs, morals, the bogey-man), and 4) to instill conformity. Bascom also writes that all 4 functions can be summed up as maintaining the stability of the culture. Folktales "warn the dissatisfied of over-ambitious individual to be content with his lot, to accept the world as it is and his place in it, and thus to conform to the accepted patterns." (p. 296)

Except, of course, when the folklore is about the act of instigating social change. Bascom doesn't say this at all, but I think it's crucial to remember that some stories are about validating the outsider, the possibility of changing the world, or the necessity for political resistance.

I'm also reading a book called "Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum. She emphases the need to deliberately promulgate stories of resistance in addition to stories of oppression. This resistance may come from people of any color, but without a sense that there were individuals working against such evils as slavery, a child encountering this history could easily be overwhelmed. It would also be confusing... if that's how things were and it's not how they are, then why did they change? Stories of resisters are important.

At the same time, the Bascom essay in the Dundes book has a point, in that stories always convey at least implicit ideas of what a proper way of being in that culture is. There are several other interesting essays in this collection: "The 'It' Role in Children's Games" by Gump and Sutton-Smith which examines how power plays out in these sorts of games, "The Three Bears" by Phillips which searches for folkloric origins of this authored tale, which has since passed back into folklore... lots of interesting things, really, but the entire collection reflects an overly psychologized ethos that was probably the result of its 1965 publication date, a time when Americans had absorbed the ideas of Freud and others thoroughly. It's funny how much you can feel the impact of historical context on supposedly objective scholarship.