This interdisciplinary project investigates the character and development of children’s interaction with books in schools, at home, and on the book market in Denmark c. 1790-1850, when a new market for children’s books emerged, and the production of school books boomed in connection with local and national school reforms. Whereas most children around 1790 encountered only a limited number of religious books at school (an ABC, Luther’s Small Catechism, the gospels and a book with further expositions of the catechism) and sometimes shared religious and entertaining books with adults at home, an abundance of new book titles, specifically for children, appeared during the first half of the 19th century. Interactions between different actors on and around the market (publishers, authors, teachers, parents, children) and across national, linguistic, and social borders will be studied, with special attention to children’s agency, i.e. their uses and experiences of books in practice. The project will provide a new understanding of this formative period in the history of children’s media and of children’s media usages by applying innovative research strategies in the intersection between book history, literary history, school history, and childhood studies. These new cross-disciplinary approaches and methodologies will also be relevant to studies of children and media today.
This project is organized as a close collaboration between three researchers and their individual subprojects. The three subprojects intend to investigate the relationship between children and their books within three different settings: On the book market, at home and at school: