The University of Southampton

HIST1022 Childhood and Youth in Early Modern Society

Module Overview

This module will introduce you to the historical controversies over whether a concept of childhood existed in the early modern period by familiarizing you with some of the key writers of early modern social history. We will examine how our modern understandings of childhood and treatment of children have been influenced by changes that took place across the early modern period. We will consider how we use social institutions such as education, the law and families to define the periods of childhood and youth and understand how these differed in an era where these social institutions were very different. We will also address the problematic nature of uncovering the experience of childhood in the past when this social group is largely absent from the historical record and discuss how we as historians are able to overcome these gaps by using sources imaginatively

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to: - introduce you to the argument that the concept of childhood is a modern construction and to provide you with the tools to assess its strength - familiarise you with some of the key writers on early modern social and cultural history - provide you with an opportunity to explore the history of children through a wide range of primary and secondary sources - prepare you for the larger scale study of history in level 2 modules.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
  • The development of the historiography of early modern childhood between 1960 and the present day.
  • Appropriate methodologies for uncovering a history of childhood.
  • The range of primary sources available to historians researching a history of childhood and their strengths and weaknesses.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain how and why the history of childhood has developed as a topic of historical enquiry.
  • Analyse primary sources ranging from art, ballads, diaries and letters to philosophical writings and literature.
  • Explore the potential of sources from the early modern period for uncovering a history of childhood.
  • Evaluate the claim that ‘childhood’ is a modern construction.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work independently and unsupervised for extended periods of time on complex tasks
  • Display effective time management.
  • Interact purposefully, productively and confidently with both your tutor and peers.
  • Make valuable, critical and valued contributions to discussions and debates.
  • Write speedily yet fluently for extended periods, clearly articulating your ideas.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Gather, assimilate, synthesise and interpret a range of primary and secondary material
  • Comment upon complex debates, citing relevant evidence in support
  • Locate digitalised early modern primary sources through using resources such as in early English books online.
  • Draw upon your acquired knowledge in debate and essays.


Possible lecture structure (to be reflected by debates in seminars) 1. The Creation of Childhood 2. Protestant Ideology and Upbringing 3. Family Life 4. A Revolution in Education? 5. Education: Class and Gender 6. Locke and Rousseau 7. A New World for Children in the 18th century 8. Images of Youth 9. Work and Leisure 10. Crime and Disorder

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Lectures, which may include some group work and/or participation, such as reading primary sources - Seminars including detailed reading and analysis of primary sources – including texts, images or objects Learning activities include: - In depth analysis of primary sources - Preparatory reading and individual study - Individual participation in seminars, group work and short presentations on seminar themes Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Completion of assessment task50
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

C. Heywood (2001). A History of Childhood. 

H. Cunningham (1995). Children and Childhood in Western Society. 

S. Cavallo and S. Evangelisti, eds (2014). A Cultural History of Childhood and Family in the Early Modern Age. 

I. K. Ben Amos (1994). Adolescence and Youth in Early Modern Society. 

P. Griffiths (1996). Youth and Authority. 

A. Fletcher and S. Hussey, eds (1999). Childhood in Question. 

A. Muller, ed., (2006). Fashioning Childhood in the Eighteenth Century. 

N. Orme (2003). Medieval Children. 

L. Underworld (2014). Childhood, Youth and Religious Dissent in Post-Reformation England. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise  (500 words) 30%
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Reflective essay  (1000 words) 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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