English 9056A

Knowing Children: The Modern Child in the Field of Culture

Professor S. Bruhm
Fall Half Course.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has argued that, in the twentieth century, the closet is not a superseded regime of knowing, and that subjectivity is still very much organized around the axes of knowledge and ignorance.  If that’s true, then it is “the child” that best reflects the problem of closets, for it is the child around which our culture’s most potent assumptions about knowledge and ignorance take their force.  This course examines the figure of the modern child in theory, literature and film.  At the heart of the course are questions of epistemology and its discontents, sexuality and its symptoms, innocence and its uses.  We will look at the child constructed and disciplined by psychoanalysis, the child as phantasmatic screen for adult preoccupations, the child in critical theory and the child as critical theory—that is, the way in which this remarkably arbitrary category underpins so much intellectual machinery of the contemporary period.

View the course syllabus here: English 9056A.