The Cultural Construction of Monstrous Children raises important questions at the heart of society and culture, and through an interdisciplinary, trans-cultural analysis, presents important findings on socio-cultural representations and embodiments of the child and childhood. At the start of the 21st century, new anxieties constellate around the child and childhood, while older concerns have re-emerged, mutated, and grown stronger. But as historical analysis shows, they have been ever-present concerns. This innovative and interdisciplinary collection of essays considers examples of monstrous children since the 16th century to the present, spanning real-life and popular culture. to exhibit the manifestation of the Western cultural anxiety around the problematic, anomalous child as naughty, dangerous, or just plain evil.
The linkage between children and horror, or horror-full children, would seem an almost natural connection to make given its popularity in contemporary horror films and novels. However, the intersection between the two categories has a long history going back beyond the more obvious Gothic reimaginings of the 19th century with its under-age ghostly terrors revealing that the idea of the ‘little horror’ is seemingly an inherent demarcation within society between adults and those that are viewed as ‘not adults’.
However, as seen in this timely and innovative collection, the anomalous child can also be seen in a positive light, and that resistance to easy categorization can be embraced by wider society as a force for change as can be seen in the recent example of a problematic child/adolescence, Greta Thunberg, a singularly focused individual, who is 16 years-old at the time of writing, has consistently refused to act as desired by the adult society around her in pursuit of gaining recognition of the urgent need for action in regard to environmental change. The book takes an inter- and multidisciplinary approach, drawing upon fields as diverse as sociology, psychology, film, and literature, to study the role of the child and childhood within contemporary Western culture and to see the ways in which each discipline intersects and influences the other, as well as viewing all this through a historical lens.