Well, it has been a while, but I thought I would check in and maybe get the ball rolling again by sharing two articles. The first is an essay I wrote for a conference dedicated to my former teacher and mentor, Miriam Hansen. It takes up her notion of vernacular modernism and relates it to the Dead End kids films of the early 1930s. I include it here because it gives a preview of the work I am doing on the figure of the urban child. I am currently writing a book (or trying to!) called Fantasies of Neglect: Imagining the Urban Child which aims to consider neglect as a common trope for the urban child but also considers the power of neglect as enabling -- as letting kids have freedom and mobility. And it pits earlier models of parenting and what we can call benign neglect against contemporary models of helicopter parenting, to consider what's been lost for kids. It includes chapters on the Dead End Kids; Shirley Temple, Jane Withers and Little Orphan Annie; mid-century texts such as Harriet the Spy and Eloise and films like Kramer vs. Kramer, Pretty Baby and the Little Fugitive; African American representation in The Quiet One, The Street, The Planet of Junior Brown, and Cool World, as well as Fat Albert and Sesame Street; and discussion of helicopter parenting in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; with an epilogue about dystopic texts like The Hunger Games.
This essay only takes up a very small part of the argument but will give you an idea:
The other article I wanted to include is one that was in yesterdays Sunday NY Times. This essay on "The Mommy Problem" takes up the failure to neglect (my words) as a problem for women who are expected to be "all in" at all times, and to forget their selves and their desires when they become moms.
If you read either of these and send a comment I promise I will try and blog more often.