Child Labor and American Modernism (1890-1930)
This proposed special session calls for papers that focus on modern American writers addressing the issue of child labor in the U.S. between 1890 and 1930. By 1905, 2,500,000 children worked in industry in the U.S., and by 1920, 8.3% of all children in the U.S. under the age of 15 were earning wages in industry (often considered “bad” for children) or agriculture (often considered “good” for children). Child labor ends on a national scale only with the advent of the Great Depression. The problem thus parallels the development of early modernism and the end of the “High Modern” period. Special consideration will be given to papers that focus on representations of childhood and labor in relation to political and aesthetic forms of consciousness, nationalism, race, ethnicity, class, or gender.