Imaginary Citizens -- Child Readers and the Limits of American Independence 1640--1868 by Courtney Weikle-Mills, Johns Hopkins University Press '13, $55, 265 pages, ASIN #1421407213. Index, notes, no bibliography, b&w images sprinkled through text.
As long as America was a republic, in the raising of their children, parents have grappled with the notion of their offspring as citizens. Obviously, children under 18 cannot vote in most, if not all, states, But does that mean that they have no responsibilities as American citizens?
In her new book, literature scholar Courtney Weikle-Mills deconstructs the origin and evolution of the concept of citizenship in the United States, as they involved struggles over the meaning and boundaries of childhood. "Children were thought of as more than witnesses to American history and governance -- they were representatives of 'the people' in general.
Some writers of children's books taught children "how to be good citizens and gave them the freedom, autonomy, and possibility to imagine themselves as such, despite the actual limitations of the law concerning child citizenship.....Characters such as Goody Two-Shoes, Ichabod Crane, and Tom Sawyer were role models for children and taught them the consequences of bad citizenship."
Courtney Weikle-Mills is an assistant professor of literature at the University of Pittsburgh.
Mysteries of my Father -- An Irish-American Memoir by Thomas Fleming, Wiley Publishing '05, $24.95, 341 pages, ASIN #0471655155. Index, grouping of b&w images.
From the dust jacket:
"In 1998, a man probing France's Argonne Forest with a metal detector discovered a gold onyx ring. On the inside was the inscription 'From Mayor Frank Hague to Sheriff Teddy Fleming, 1945,' which helped track down the owner, historian and novelist Thomas Fleming. Thirty years earlier, he had lost the ring while exploring the blood-soaked battlefield where his father had won a lieutenant's commission in World War I. Fleming flew to France and had the ring placed back on his finger, in the exact place where he had lost it.
"Back at home, Fleming realized it would take more than a trip to France to understand the man who had originally accepted that ring and the mayor who had given it to him. Teddy Fleming represented something large and formidable that the writer had tried to deal with in a half-dozen novels. Was it finally time to confront the whole truth without the disguises of fiction?"
Thomas Fleming has written more than 40 novels and nonfiction books and is frequently interviewed on public radio and TV outlets. He lives in New York City.