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Depicting Canada’s Children

Loren Lerner, editor

Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada Series

Hardcover 468 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-050-7

Release Date: May 2009

Online discount: 25%

$50.99  $38.24


eBook availability

Depicting Canada’s Children is a critical analysis of the visual representation of Canadian children from the seventeenth century to the present. Recognizing the importance of methodological diversity, these essays discuss understandings of children and childhood derived from depictions across a wide range of media and contexts. But rather than simply examine images in formal settings, the authors take into account the components of the images and the role of image-making in everyday life. The contributors provide a close study of the evolution of the figure of the child and shed light on the defining role children have played in the history of Canada and our assumptions about them. Rather than offer comprehensive historical coverage, this collection is a catalyst for further study through case studies that endorse innovative scholarship. This book will be of interest to scholars in art history, Canadian history, visual culture, Canadian studies, and the history of children.

Loren Lerner is a professor of art history at Concordia University, Montreal. In 2005, she was the curator of Picturing Her: Images of Girlhood at the McCord Museum. Recent publications include articles in Canadian Children’s Literature, Journal of Canadian Art History, and the McCord/AMS Colloquium, Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Child Health in the 20th Century.


“It is the presentation of this book that first demans attention because, refreshingly for academic books concerned with visual analysis, it is well produced and of high quality.... Methodologically, the introduction claims breadth in terms of media and contexts, which is fulfilled in these interdisciplinary representations from ‘childhood studies’. The majority, unsurprisingly, draw on pre-existing photographs and artworks (stretching from the seventeenth century to the present day) not to mention texts, but children’s drawings, architectural plans, brochures, statues and films also make an appearance. The source material itself is centralised to different degrees: sometimes the background to a narrative, at others carefully deconstructed.... This engaging, varied and well-presented collection is of value not just to those in self-defined ‘childhood studies’ but in other disciplines concerned either with Canada’s contemporary or historical society; or with bringing children into historical, geographical, sociological or pyschological research more generally.”

— Madeleine E. Hatfield, Royal Holloway, University of London, British Joural of Canadian Studies

Depicting Canada’s Children presents recent, cross-disciplinary scholarship on the visual culture of children and childhood. The nineteen essays in the book examine multiple topics, use diverse sources and methodologies, and draw on a range of contextual literatures. Issues central to the history of childhood are evident throughout. Many of the essays are outstanding, but the value of the collection as a whole is to be found in the crosscurrents among the individual contributions. The essays amplify each other—similarities and differences abound, complexities accumulate, and questions emerge.... [Many essays are] characterized by numerous high quality illustrations, both black and white and in colour, which immediately illuminate the combination of intrinsic complexity and aesthetic appeal inherent in visual culture.... In her introduction, Lerner states that the purpose of the anthology was ‘to demonstrate the significance of visual culture’ to the study of childhood (p. xv). Depicting Canada’s Children succeeds admirably in accomplishing its objective.”

— Helen Brown, Vancouver Island University, H-Childhood, H-Net Reviews

“Scholars from a variety of disciplines are the contributors to this fine volume of essays on images of children in Canada. Psychologists, historians, feminists, and art historians present essays on children’s experience in school and other institutions, with excellent colour and b/w plates included in each essay.”

Research Book News

“This volume of essays on pictures of Canadian children is a significant contribution to studies of childhood in Canada. Those of us who teach childhood studies in this country regularly are reminded that most of the work on the figure of the child focuses on British and American childhoods, and less often, on European childhoods. Teachers and scholars typically have to piece together these observations with speculations and provisos about their application to Canadian contexts to reach judgements about the cultural function of ‘the child’ and children here. By paying sustained attention to depictions of children in Canada, this collection makes it possible to consider more fully how the idea of childhood has been used in, and is intertwined with, the social, cultural, and political history of the Canadian nation.”

— Mavis Reimer, Canada Research Chair in the Culture of Childhood, University of Winnipeg