Connecting Childhood Studies, Age Studies, and Children’s Literature Studies
John Wall’s Concept of Childism and Anne Fine’s The Granny Project
Diverging definitions and uses of concepts such as “ageism,” “aetonormativity,” “adultism,” and “childism” point at the relative separateness of the fields of childhood studies, age studies, and children’s literature studies, while also highlighting their shared interest in questions of age, prejudice, and agency. This article uses John Wall’s concept of “childism” to highlight the potential of bringing these fields into conversation to explore intergenerational relationships. Using Anne Fine’s The Granny Project (1983) as a case study, it shows, moreover, that children’s books themselves can help foster the paradigm shift that Wall envisages with childism. Fine’s novel about four children’s resistance to their parents’ plans to move their grandmother out of their home thematises processes of othering, ageist prejudices, human rights, and intergenerational dialogue and care. While provocative scenes and gaps in the story may pose hurdles to children’s engagement and even risk reinforcing ageist stereotypes, the novel testifies to a belief in young readers’ agency and the potential for intergenerational understanding that Wall puts central in his concept of childism.
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