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He is currently working on. Her research interests include early modern demonology, witchcraft, experimental philosophy, theology and pre-Linnaean botany. Sasha Handley is professor of early modern history at the University of Manchester. Her principal research interests lie in the fields of social and cultural history, material culture, and more recently, environmental history.


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His current research examines the history of early modern hair and feather-working. She works on the history of ballads, from the early modern period through the nineteenth century. She is especially interested in the lived experience of ballads: how people used, sang, and sold these cheaply printed songsheets and pamphlets, often in the public marketplace. John Morgan is an early modern environmental historian based at the University of Manchester.

He is interested in the history of water, disasters, and the relationships between environment and emotion in the early modern period. Dr Hannah Newton is a social and cultural historian of early modern England, specialising in the histories of medicine, emotions, and childhood. Even the idea of heavenly reunions seemed too explicit to some, who were eager to banish all thoughts of death from the experience of childhood. It was best to encourage children to think of death as a remote result of old age; there was some hope that providing scientific facts would reduce fears of death for older children.

By the s, a general silence had emerged on the topic of death in the United States, with some authors calling it a taboo topic, particularly in reference to children. David Sudnow's s ethnographic work in two U. Hospital staff avoided references to the future when speaking with dying children and adolescents, for example.

Children's deaths were more upsetting to the staff than adults', reflecting the general attitude shared by both parents and doctors that death and children did not mix, a consensus that had emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Children's participation in funeral practices and death rituals also reflected this shift. Funeral practices themselves changed considerably over time and across social groups, but children were included in funerals up to the early twentieth century. No respectable funeral procession in the late Middle Ages was complete without a delegation of children from orphanages or foundling homes.

In the Victorian era, wearing somber clothes or other signs of mourning became widespread, and children were included in the practice. Although funerals moved from the home to park-like cemeteries, which were often at a considerable distance, children were still in attendance. By the s, death kits were available for dolls, complete with coffins and mourning clothes, as a means of helping to train girls for participating in, even guiding, death rituals and their attendant grief.

In the case of newsboys, children even organized and contributed toward the funeral rites of deceased newsboys in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, to honor their lives and avoid the looming threat of a pauper's burial, as well as to express group solidarity. The early twentieth century, however, saw a decline in these elaborate mourning rituals, and the remaining rituals often excluded children.

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It was believed that children should be kept away from funerals, just as they were usually barred from hospital sick rooms even those of close relatives or parents. This stemmed in part from an increasing concern with children's vulnerability to emotional stress.

It was believed that funeral rituals and contexts of great emotional intensity were too difficult for children to endure. Some countercurrents began in the mid-twentieth century, however, such as the hospice movement, which stressed the importance of a family context for the terminally ill.

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In addition, some subgroups in American society continued to involve children in highly emotional funerals. Certainly the death taboo with children in the twentieth century was not absolute, as children continued to confront death both human and animal , but death was less explicitly and frequently discussed with children, and when death was presented, it tended to be in a less emotional and immediate fashion.

Historians have debated the emotional response to death in the premodern period. Some once argued that adults, at least, became inured to death, so that it did not occasion significant grief. The standard adult "good death" most frequently from lingering respiratory infection did allow family members to pay respects to the dying individual, permitting any outstanding scores to be settled, and this may indeed have blunted the emotional impact for other family members, including children.

Even where children were concerned, certain adult practices, such as reusing the names of children who had died and, in some places, not naming children at all for a year or two, suggest the impact of frequent deaths on adult behavior. Attachment patterns can serve to minimize grief: Nancy Scheper-Hughes found that Brazilian women facing a high child mortality rate distanced themselves emotionally from young infants, particularly those who seemed sickly, as a way of minimizing their anticipated grief at the infants' death.

But newer interpretations of premodern Europe, often based on diaries and letters, emphasize how deeply adults were affected by the deaths of young children, however common their occurrence. Expressions of lingering grief, often remembered into later life, and a practice of using children's deaths as the key markers in family calendars, suggest powerful emotional reactions, in part because children, dying of causes such as diarrhea, and inarticulate in any event, could not have the kinds of good deaths available to older adults.

Children's emotional responses to death involve more than just grief, particularly in those cultures that use the fear of death as a disciplinary and religious tool.

Death, Emotion and Childhood in Premodern Europe - NCBI Bookshelf

Fear of death was actively employed in Catholic Europe as a means of keeping children in line and also of illustrating the dire consequences of original sin the same theme emerged in Puritan society, as noted previously. Holy days like All Saints' Day, which commemorated the dead but which were also often associated with stories of ghosts returning and misfortune, could play a lively part in children's imagination.

Even in modern Mexico and Central America , children may be kept home from school on All Saints Day because of the risk of disaster. These messages were clearly influential, as children were indeed often terrified by the prospect of death and damnation. The gradual secularization of culture in countries like France reduced these death fears by the eighteenth century. By the early nineteenth century death became romanticized for the middle class in some Western countries as part of the new, sentimental current in literature.

Many novels portrayed tragic death scenes, designed to elicit tears and compassion for innocent often young, often female victims, and some of these were available for children as readers. Children may have been comforted, as well, by the growing belief that families would be lovingly reunited in heaven, a theme in popular religious and romantic fiction and poetry, as well as in nineteenth-century popular songs.

As attitudes toward death changed, ceremonies became more elaborate and expressive, and children and adults were encouraged to embrace the emotion of grief, which was seen as a strong, family-uniting emotional bond in a time of loss. Many children, particularly girls, grew up knowing that sorrow and sentimentality over loss were an expected part of emotional life, a counterpart to love. The Elizabethan Top Ten. Emma Smith. Religion and Drama in Early Modern England. Elizabeth Williamson. Books and Readers in Early Modern England.

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