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Power to children’s imaginations: May ’68 and counter culture for children in France

Heywood, S. ORCID: (2018) Power to children’s imaginations: May ’68 and counter culture for children in France. Strenae (13). 1838. ISSN 2109-9081

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To link to this item DOI: 10.4000/strenae.1838


“Why am I talking to you about May ’68?”, asked the children’s publisher Arthur Hubschmid at a conference in 2005, “well, it changed things for us radically, that’s why”. The years around May ’68 are widely understood to have marked an important moment for children’s literature, particularly picturebooks, in France. The late 1960s to the late 1970s are typically portrayed as a period of renewal, even revolution, in the ways people conceptualised children’s picturebooks, which led to great experimentation and ebullition in the genre. Some even speak of the “May ’68 of children’s books”. This essay argues that the visual transformation, and change in status of picturebooks, were also the product of a wider, political debate around children’s books, and that we should take seriously the role of ’68 in this narrative. Thus far, 68 has been a neat shorthand for scholars to paint these years as so exciting that even children’s publishers could be hippie rebels. This period, I will argue, can also tell us a lot more about the history of the child in the cultural rebellions of the sixties, and how children and their culture became caught up in postwar social and cultural ideals and their counter cultural response. At the same time, understood as a form of cultural politics, the ’68 of children’s picturebooks provides a telling and distinct example of the different effects of ‘68.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Modern European Histories and Cultures
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > French
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing (CBCP)
ID Code:76882
Publisher:Association Francaise de Recherche sur les Livres et les Objets Culturels de l'Enfance


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