Dr. Monica Flegel publishes book in Ashgate Series

Dr. Monica Flegel publishes book in Ashgate Series

Cover of: Conceptualizing Cruelty to Children in Nineteenth-Century England Literature, Representation, and the NSPCC by Monica Flegel

Conceptualizing Cruelty to Children in Nineteenth-Century England Literature, Representation, and the NSPCC

Monica Flegel, Lakehead University

Series : Ashgate Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

ISBN: 978-0-7546-6456-7

Moving nimbly between literary and historical texts, Monica Flegel provides a much-needed interpretive framework for understandking the specific formulation of child curelty popularized by the National Society for the Prevention of Cuelty to Children(NSPCC) in the late nineteenth century. Flegel considers a wide range of well-known and more obsure texts from the mid-eighteenth century to the early twentieth, including philosophical writings by Locke and Rousseau, poetry by Coleridge, Blake, and Caroline Norton, works by journalists and reformers like Henry Mayhew and Mary Carpenter, and novels by Frances Trollope, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Morrison.

Taking up crucial topics such as the linking of children with animals, the figure of the child performer, the relationship between commerce and child endangerment, and the problem of juvenile delinquency, Flegel examines the emergence of child abuse as a subject of legal and social concern in England, and its connection to earlier, primarily literary representations of endangered children. With the emergence of the NSPCC and the new crime of cruelty to children, new professions and genres, such as child protection and social casework, supplanted literary works as the authoritative voices in the definition of social ills and their cure. Flegel argues that this development had material effects on the lives of children, as well as profound implications for the role of class in representations of suffering and abused children. Combining nuanced close readings of individual texts with persuasive interpretations of their influences and limitations, Flegel's book makes a significant contribution to the history of childhood, social welfare, the family, and Victorian philanthropy.  

Dr. Monica Flegel's primary field is Victorian literature and social discourse. Her research and teaching interests include children's studies, literary theory, class and ideology, animal studies, and cultural studies. She has published on A.S. Byatt, E. Nesbit, and on child abuse in nineteenth-century England.

'Monica Flegel makes a major contribution to scholarship on the construction of childhood, child abuse, family intervention, and social welfare. This highly readable, interdisciplinary work will be a most valuable addition to the growing field of childhood studies.'
Lydia Murdoch, Vassar College, USA