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Babes in the Woods: Wilderness Aesthetics in Children's Stories and Toys, 1830-1915

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Representations of nonhuman wild animals in children's stories and toys underwent dramatic transformation over the years 1830-1915. During the earlier part of that period, wild animals were presented to children as being savage and dangerous, and that it was necessary for them to be killed or brutally constrained. In the 1890s, an animalcentric discourse emerged in Nature writing, along with an animal-human symbiosis in scientific child study that highlighted childhood innocence, resulting in a valuing of wild animals based upon their similarity to humans. This article will describe the aesthetic devices of children's stories and play materials in relation to the dominant, emerging, and residual ideas about the wild communicated by adults to children through these means.

Affiliations: 1: Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada


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