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Products for grant FEL-257990-18

FEL-257990-18
Mechanical Literacy in British Culture, 1762-1860
Elizabeth Hoiem, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FEL-257990-18

“The Progress of Sugar: Consumption as Complicity in Children’s Books about Slavery and Manufacturing, 1790-2015.” (Article)
Title: “The Progress of Sugar: Consumption as Complicity in Children’s Books about Slavery and Manufacturing, 1790-2015.”
Author: Elizabeth Massa Hoiem
Abstract: This paper analyzes “production stories,” a genre of information literature and media responsible for teaching children how everyday things are made. As nineteenth-century families increasingly consumed tropical commodities produced by the enslaved, including sugar, tea, coffee, rum, and tobacco, the production story developed in Britain and the United States as a way to explain to children where everyday household goods originate, making global trade networks visible in the home. These “production stories” developed strategies for raising or eliding ethical questions posed by who makes things, under what conditions, and for whom. Focusing on stories of sugar production, I find that production stories reveal surprising details about technical processes for making things, but conceal the human cost of production. They also end with consumption, when children use the products, symbolically affirming the conditions under which they were produced. Drawing on scholarship from the history of technology and the history of the Atlantic slave trade, I contend that these problematic representations of manufacturing processes feed into and support whitewashed histories for children. I conclude by analyzing contemporary picturebooks that resist these genre patterns and encourage positive identification with enslaved black characters, who like child readers, are at once makers, readers, and consumers.
Year: 2020
Access Model: subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Children's Literature in Education
Publisher: Springer

“Fair Trade for Children: Ethical Cooperation and Exchange in the Children’s Literature of Maria Edgeworth, Isaac Taylor, Jane Marcet, and the 19thC Cooperative Movement.” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Fair Trade for Children: Ethical Cooperation and Exchange in the Children’s Literature of Maria Edgeworth, Isaac Taylor, Jane Marcet, and the 19thC Cooperative Movement.”
Author: Elizabeth Massa Hoiem
Abstract: This paper analyzes British children’s fiction and nonfiction from 1800 to 1860 about global trade and political economy, exploring early representations of economic justice in children’s literature. I identify popular authors who engage children in ethical debates over what kind of economic activities are mutually beneficial for producers and consumers. Children’s books by Maria Edgeworth and Jane Marcet (the “mother of political economy” who inspired Harriet Martineau’s Illustrations of Political Economy (1834)), and children’s manufacturing tour books by Isaac Taylor (the brother of poets Jane and Ann Taylor) represent cooperation as the happy result of competition and the division of labor, using personal gifts and face-to-face conversation to humanize capitalist exchange. Concurrently, Robert Owen and the Cooperative Society developed radical education curricula for children that rejects capitalist competition, developing the principles behind the Fair Trade movement. My research investigates these competing visions of cooperation using Marcet’s Willy’s Holidays (1836), with children's articles from Cooperative newspapers, obtained with research from the Nation Co-operative Archive in Manchester. I call particular attention to representations of global and local trade, and gender, class, and race in labor contexts. Scholars have previously assessed literature by Charles Dickens, Charlotte Tonna, Harriet Martineau, and Elizabeth Gaskell about industrialization and political economy. My approach, however, places children at the center of these ethical debates—as readers and consumers, but also as children who worked alongside adults to produce goods for trade.
Date: 06/14/19
Conference Name: Children’s Literature Association (ChLA), IUPUI & IU East, Indianapolis, IN


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