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Children’s 68: introduction

Sophie Heywood
Traduction(s) :
Le ‘68 des enfants : introduction

Texte intégral

1In the years around ‘68, children’s books and media became caught up in the current of turbulence, protest and countercultural agitation that characterised this era. A new motif emerged – the children’s version of the raised fist of the revolutionary. It appeared in imprint logos, sometimes holding a lollipop aloft, often with a child’s face imposed on it, or on badges for children handed out with magazines, or even, in the case of a German picturebook Fünf Finger sind eine Faust (Five fingers make a fist, 1969) forming the subject of an entire story. Some books looked revolutionary. The bold red circle on a vivid green background on the cover of Iela Mari’s Il palloncino rosso (Little red balloon, 1967) called to mind third world liberation flags. Other picturebooks came packaged in revolutionary colours such as black and red, or packed a visual punch inspired by the famous Polish school of poster design, or the Push Pin Studio style. There were also manifestos for revolt. This was a favourite theme in Scandinavian children’s publishing, which produced the incendiary Den lille røde bog for skoleelever (The little red schoolbook, 1969), which taught children that “all adults are paper tigers”, and Frances Vestin’s Handbok i barnindoktrinering (Manual of child indoctrination, 1969) which advocated systematically, and from a very young age, teaching children to disobey. The Danish produced politicised television programmes for pre-schoolers, such as Cirkeline og flugten fra Amerika (Cirkeline and the escape from America, 1970) featuring scenes of police brutality against the Black Panthers. Even Britain, which had been relatively unaffected by the events of ’68, witnessed the publication of the “Children’s Bust Book” edition of Children’s rights magazine in 1972, which advised children on how to resist arrest, while the two landmark obscenity trials of the early 1970s centred on countercultural publications ostensibly aimed at schoolchildren (including the aforementioned Little red schoolbook). Something was happening to children’s culture across Europe, and beyond. But what is the connection between all these examples, and how significant was this moment?

Ill. 1: Logo, “Du côté des petites filles”, éditions des femmes

Ill. 2: Il faut agir ! (We must act!) badge distributed with the magazine Okapi

Ill. 3: Front and back covers, Brigitte Wengoborski, Fünf Finger sind eine Faust (Five fingers make a fist), Basis Verlag, 1969

Ill. 4: Front cover, “The Children’s Bust Book”, supplement to Children’s rights, May-June 1972

  • 1 See for example, the special issue of Revue des livres pour enfants entitled “1965-1975, la mutatio (...)
  • 2 From Superman to Social Realism: Children’s media and Scandinavian childhood (Amsterdam, John Benja (...)
  • 3 Paola Vassali, “Pagine rivoluzionarie”, Silvana Sola and Paola Vassali (eds), I nostri anni 70: lib (...)
  • 4 For example, Lucy Pearson, The making of modern children’s literature in Britain. Publishing and cr (...)
  • 5 See Marwick’s reviews of 1968: The World Transformed and Les Années 1968: Le temps de la contestati (...)
  • 6 Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement (Oxford, Oxford Univer (...)

2Much of the nationally-focused historiography and subsequent myth-making around this period has highlighted ‘68 as an important watershed moment in children’s culture, although this periodization is by no means present in all scholarly traditions. Unsurprisingly, French publications have commemorated ’68, with publishers and artists recalling their mai soixante-huitard past, and how this period changed their work, indeed made it possible for them to sell experimental literature for children.1 Writing on West Germany in this issue, Mathilde Lévêque discerns a “clear break”, in which children’s books were modified profoundly; in their form, themes and the function assigned to them. Helle Strandgaard Jensen sees a “violent rupture” in Scandinavian children’s culture, when all types of children’s media products were pronounced to be inappropriate for children by a new generation working in the children’s sector, which caused “nothing less than a revolution”.2 For Italy, Paola Vassali speaks of a great surge in creativity and vitality that revolutionised children’s books.3 The recurring idea seems to be one of rupture; that this was a moment of often dramatic desire for rebellion. By way of contrast, this is a periodization that is markedly missing from much British scholarship – the “swinging sixties” are not an important part of the historical narrative of modern children’s literature in the UK.4 Is this because the political, social and cultural upheaval did not affect children’s books? Or rather, might it be that this is a continental European and American framework for understanding a phenomenon that needs still to be identified for the British Isles? For example, the British-based historian Arthur Marwick was sceptical about the concept of “68”, and entitled his opus on this period of cultural and political unrest across Britain, the US and continental Europe “The sixties”.5 Still, Lucy Pearson, Jonathan Bignell and David Buckingham’s articles in this issue find the concept of ’68 a useful lens through which to look at children and their media in the UK; and Mathew Thomson’s study of the changing landscape for childhood in postwar Britain closes with the advent of the 1970s, presenting this era as an important caesura when the “permissive revolution altered what children can do, how they are listened to, and what adults can do to legally control them”.6 This suggests that a comparative, multinational approach to this distinctive moment has the potential to move scholarship beyond these nationally focused histories, to address the transnational nature of the children’s ‘68, and possibly even beyond the labels and periodizations currently applied.

  • 7 For example, Martin Klimke and Joachim Scharloth’s edited volume begins in 1957, 1968 in Europe. A (...)
  • 8 Daniel J. Sherman, Ruud van Dijk, Jasmine Alinder and A. Aneesh (eds) The Long 1968: Revisions and (...)
  • 9 “Rethinking May 68”, Julian Jackson, Anna-Louise Milne, and James Williams (eds) May 68: Rethinking (...)

3Beyond the world of children’s cultural studies, the notion that there was a “children’s ‘68” is novel, and at first sight it is not obvious where it fits in to the master narrative of ’68. Clearly the students and workers on the barricades were not fighting for more innovative children’s books. However, since the two large commemorations of ’68 in 1998 and 2008, the tendency in the historiography has been to see the events of ’68 in their much wider context of the protest movements and countercultural turbulence that were taking place across the globe around this time. In this schema, ’68 was a significant stage within the profound social and cultural changes taking place in the so-called “long sixties” (stretching from the second half of the 1950s well into the 1970s, even into the early 1980s according to some studies).7 Historians have begun to employ terms such as the “68 years”, or the “long ‘68” to designate this era of global protest. Crucially, this shift has led historians to move beyond what Sherman et al suggest “was beginning to seem like the canonical treatment of the events focused on familiar figures in the Paris-Berkeley axis”, to include events, groups, and ideas, or locations and actors that had not previously been included.8 As Julian Jackson writes, “we need to explode ‘May ‘68’ spatially, sociologically, chronologically and thematically.”9 In this special issue we will argue that the decentring of the ’68 years should turn our attention to children’s culture. The hypothesis of the children’s ’68 project is that the very nature of ‘68, especially as it now generally is understood to have played out in Western Europe and the United States, points to the importance of children and their culture.

4This brief introduction (just like the entire issue) has no pretension to being exhaustive – or even comprehensive – rather, it is intended to identify some basic ideas, and to act as a stimulus to further research. In particular, given space constraints, the focus in this introductory essay is on books and print culture rather than other media products. However, within the special issue, Helle Strandgaard Jensen and Jonathan Bignell have written on television, Martina Winkler and Anna Antoniazzi include television programmes and films in their analysis, while Loïc Boyer and Carine Brosse’s contributions take us into playgrounds and the art galleries and museums respectively.

Origins

  • 10 There is a large literature on the interwar avant-garde. Most relevant here, although she admits it (...)
  • 11 Thomson, Lost Freedom, Introduction.

5What were the specific conditions in the field of children’s culture that led to a cultural rebellion? While there were many ways in which the rebels of ’68 owed an important debt to the modernists of the interwar period, this introductory essay argues the conditions that produced this cultural turbulence were largely to be found in the postwar period.10 It builds on Mathew Thomson’s argument that the radical revaluations of childhood that we witness in this period were a product of the particular concerns created by the postwar settlement.11

  • 12 See for example Strandgaard Jensen, From Batman to social realism, pp. 43-66; Mathilde Lévêque, His (...)
  • 13 In Britain, the popular theories on child psychology and attachment parenting developed by John Bow (...)

6In the aftermath of World War Two and the Holocaust the figure of the child became the focus for anxieties about humanity, leading to protective legislation designed to regulate children’s access to potentially harmful material. Policymakers, educators and campaigners turned their attentions to children’s culture, as part of the desire to start anew, but also because of fears of delinquency, and the desire to undo the potentially traumatising or corrupting impact of war and fascist propaganda on the young.12 Some responses were positive, such as the creation in 1949 of the International Youth Library in Munich, followed in 1953 by the International Board on Books for Young People. Both organisations aimed to promote international understanding through children’s books. However, the main consequence of this impulse was the regulation of children’s culture, often extending to surveillance, if not censorship. In the 1950s, UNESCO produced a series of reports on the potential dangers of mass media products for children (comics, films, and later, television). Many countries introduced protective legislation. France led the way, introducing a law regulating all publications destined for children in 1949. In the same year, Canada passed Bill 10, which outlawed crime and horror comics. The US established a Comics Code in 1954, and the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act was passed in 1955 in the UK. The scope and impact of these measures varied widely, and was by no means simply limited to comics. In France, all publications for children were targeted, while in Britain and Canada, the law simply focused on illustrated horror comics. Although in Scandinavian countries no legislation was enacted, the debates were nevertheless heated, and it was believed that the future health of the Scandinavian social democratic state was at stake. In most countries, the discourse around comics and postwar reconstruction more generally saw children’s psyches as fragile and the child as easily traumatised or corrupted.13

  • 14 “Why Batman was Bad. A Scandinavian debate about children’s consumption of comics and literature in (...)

7A second catalyst for rebellion identified in several of the articles assembled in this issue is the welfare state. The Scandinavian literature in particular emphasises this as the key factor in their children’s ’68. Strangaard Jensen has shown how the welfare states created a sense of an urgent need for the mediation of children’s culture by specialists: “the people responsible for adapting children to the educational needs of the welfare state, teachers and their professionally trained colleagues, had to control and supervise children’s consumption of various cultural products”. Families could not be trusted to possess the requisite knowledge to enact the needs of the state.14 By the late 1960s, Olle Widhe’s article details how the Swedish New Left was accusing the welfare state of “indoctrinating” children, training them to become “submissive citizens unable to question the prevailing capitalist order.” Widhe argues that the experience and meaning of childhood had become closely bound to the newly expanded mechanism of the advanced western capitalist state (or military industrial complex, as many ‘68ers would put it). Certainly, the construction of the famed Scandinavian social democratic welfare states and the new prosperity and modernisation they heralded represented an important change, whereas for France, the UK and Germany, this was not quite such a watershed moment, as their states had been expanding into the private sphere from the late nineteenth century. However, it was by no means just the Scandinavians who were beginning to rail against this model as suffocating. One of the stereotypes associated with the ’68ers sees them as the young and privileged complaining about the comforts that they had been granted. David Buckingham’s article for this issue quotes British author and children’s rights campaigner Jenny Diski’s memoir of the time. She called them “the Peter Pan generation” because they wanted to give children the liberated childhood they had dreamed of. The children growing up under the newly expanded welfare states – the famous baby boomers – were also the first beneficiaries of the postwar economic miracle, and the consensus era. By the late 1950s, these children were starting to enjoy a level of material wealth, comfort, educational opportunity and political stability that placed their outlook poles apart from earlier generations. The sense in the prosperous ‘60s was growing that rather than being fearful, seeking to cocoon the child, it was perhaps more pertinent to create spaces for children in comfortable circumstances to indulge in fantasy, to even shake them up a little.

  • 15 Les Petits Livres d’or : Des albums pour enfants dans la France de la guerre froide, (Tours, Presse (...)

8The prosperous nuclear family was one of the foundation stones of the American Cold War construction of happiness and freedom in capitalist society. This vision was exported to Europe by the Marshall Plan, in advertisements for popular consumer products such as Coca-Cola, but also in books and cultural products, such as the Little Golden Books, Disney cartoons and films which harped on the same chord. As Cécile Boulaire has shown, the CIA even funded Georges Duplaix, the French agent who oversaw the exportation of Little Golden Books to Europe.15 However, this vision was soon challenged. The expansion of television news beamed images of American nuclear bombs and of wars in Korea and Vietnam into people’s front rooms, while 1960s teenagers love of Anglo-American pop music ensured the spread of a youth culture that was increasingly critical of the dark side of the American Cold War. Kimberly Reynolds reminded us during the conference that preceded this special issue, that while much of American culture specifically aimed at children during the 1960s may have remained silent on the subject of contemporary politics, children could easily access other forms of culture, notably anti-war pop songs (she joked that her younger brother learned to count with the famous protest song “One, two, three what are we fighting for?”). The young (and not so young) were becoming politicised by the anti-Vietnam and civil rights movements. This sense of pressure was compounded by changes within the nuclear family. Over the 1950s and especially the 1960s an increasing number of women were gaining secondary and higher education, and entering the work place, even entertaining ambitions of having a career. These women were changing the power dynamics within the family, undermining paternal authority, and became the mothers who would have new ideas about what kind of media products their children might consume. The question was how long could children’s culture ignore these changes?

Ill. 5: Janet Frank, Tibor Gergely, Nos Papas, 1954. French edition of Daddies, A Little Golden Book, 1954

  • 16 See for example Loredana Farina (ed) La casa delle meraviglie: La Emme Edizioni di Rosellina Archin (...)
  • 17 Interview with Tomi Ungerer and Judith Kerr, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 4 October 2011, http://ne (...)

9The first rumblings of dissent came from across the Atlantic. New York in the postwar period was understood by many in the trade to be where the most exciting work in children’s books was being published.16 Many young European artists who were to prove influential in the children’s ’68, such as Tomi Ungerer and, later, Etienne Delessert, went there to ply their trade, frustrated by the lack of opportunities at home. Ungerer’s experiments in picturebooks were to prove foundational for the international children’s counterculture. Born in Strasbourg (France) in 1931, he lost his father when he was young, and then experienced the Nazi occupation of Strasbourg when he was a schoolboy. Ungerer was aware that not all childhoods were happy. He moved to New York in 1956, and began as an illustrator for Harper in 1957, for whom he soon began writing and illustrating his own books. Ungerer took young readers on journeys into the darker side of life. In the Three robbers (1961), the book itself is literally dark – midnight blues and blacks dominate the pages. The subject matter revels in the morally ambiguous, as three robbers terrorize the countryside, before meeting their match in a young girl with blonde ringlets. Moon Man (1966) contains a caustic critique of the military industrial complex. “I do believe in traumatising children”, he explained later. “I think they must see the gallows and the gas chambers. Those things existed and we don't want these things to happen again. I think children should be hit on the head with reality.”17 Maurice Sendak was the most famous enfant terrible of American 1960s picturebooks, a reputation sealed by his masterpiece, Where the wild things are (Harper & Row, 1963). In this book, his rebellious hero Max goes on a voyage to the land of the wild things, where there ensues a wild rumpus. The innovative structure of the book sees the images slowly reach out across the pages, towards the words, to eventually take over the middle of the book, with the dancing and wild-eyed gnashing of the teeth of the terrible monsters, before retreating again as the boy sails back to the safe shores of home. As with Ungerer, Sendak was also moved to speak to children of terror and nightmares, inspired by his own psychoanalysis and troubled background, and particularly the experience of his Polish-Jewish family, which had lost many members to the horrors of the Shoah. Also like Ungerer therefore, he was not only aesthetically and formally innovative, but also offered children liberation from taboos and censorship.

Ill. 6: Tomi Ungerer, illustration for The Three robbers, 1963

  • 18 Julia L. Mickenberg, Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Polit (...)
  • 19 Michael Grossberg, “Liberation and caretaking: fighting over children’s rights in postwar America”, (...)

10This was in part because the American publishing industry had not been seriously affected by the war. In addition, Julia Mickenberg has shown how the McCarthy era in the United States paradoxically created a particularly favourable publishing context for such authors. Where other professions became closed to radicals (teaching for example), children’s books were left relatively undisturbed, and so they became a key outlet for leftists. Furthermore, the industry was known to have a large number of sympathisers within, who were prepared to tread the fine line between supporting leftists and avoiding problems, and of course, selling books.18 In addition, Michael Grossberg notes that the surge in the liberationist children’s rights movement in the 1960s included campaigning for First Amendment rights. The American Library Association [ALA] used its prestigious Newbery and Caldecott medals to foster books with a liberationist approach.19 Thus in 1964 they awarded Sendak the Caldecott Medal. He used his acceptance speech as a manifesto to advocate greater freedom of speech in children’s books:

  • 20 Maurice Sendak, Caldecott Medal acceptance speech, 30 June 1964.

Certainly we want to protect our children from new and painful experiences that are beyond their emotional comprehension and that intensify anxiety […] [but] it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.20

11By placing the accent on the origins of the children’s ’68 in a reaction to the “postwar settlement” – seeing it as a desire to “unsettle” this reconstructed society – this is where we can draw the links between the works of New York-based artists such as Maurice Sendak and Tomi Ungerer in the 1950s and 60s, and the European movements of the late 1960s. All were part of the postwar generation responding to the horrors of World War Two, the Holocaust, and the efforts of the previous generation to paper over the yawning cracks in their society. Children’s culture, because of its centrality to postwar reconstruction and its anxieties, became an important locus for rebellion and counterculture.

A visual revolution?

  • 21 See for example Christiane Clerc et al (eds) Images à la Page. Une histoire de l'image dans les liv (...)

12The importance of ’68 in the field of children’s book design and illustration has been well-documented for certain western European countries, such as France, Italy and Germany.21 This period is argued to have overturned the conventions in children’s book illustrations that had become mired in an idealised realism by the 1950s. In this narrative, ’68 is characterised by an explosive creativity, and desire to reject the accepted conventions of what a children’s books should look like. There was a new emphasis on artistic freedom and this experimentation brought with it an explosion of vivid and unusual colour palettes, outlandish shapes, distortions of perspective and dimensions, and outright abstraction. Children’s culture was given a shot in the arm by the new dreamy, utopian hippie aesthetic which was an important current within the counterculture, found in the exuberant designs for vinyl covers and posters by the American John Van Hamersveld or the English Alan Aldridge, and the technicolour flower power designs of hippie camper vans. This was a symbiotic relationship moreover, with hippie culture borrowing from children’s culture, such as the “trippy” universe of Lewis Carroll. Alternatively, books and other media products for children reflected the DIY aesthetic of the underground ‘zine, or the May ’68 poster, or the pamphlet hastily photocopied on an American university campus. The polar opposite of the baroque visuals of the psychedelic and the pop, this style was spare and often wilfully clumsy, with a hand-made look to it. The political message was paramount, and this was underscored by the lack of attention paid to the production. This aesthetic, which prefigured the punk culture of the late ‘70s, was first popularised within the militant children’s culture produced by the New Left and liberation movements (such as feminists or civil rights groups), in the wake of ’68.

13Several of the articles in this special issue would seem to confirm this analysis. Writing on the Federal Republic of Germany, Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer underlines the contribution made by Heinz Edelmann, the famous art director of the Beatles’ film Yellow Submarine (1968), who brought his psychedelic aesthetic to children’s picturebooks in this period. In France, Editions Harlin Quist published Alala les télémorphoses (The teletrips of Alala) with similarly trippy images by Nicole Claveloux. This publisher gave illustrators free rein to their imaginations. For Ah! Ernesto, Bernard Bonhomme used hot, fluorescent colours, while in Théo la terreur, Jean-Jacques Loup used the motif of the enormous flower to symbolise the triumph of instinct and imagination. The illustrations by the artists Mikhail Anikst et Arkadii Troianker from the Soviet Union discussed in the article by Birgitte Beck Pristed, adapted the style in the late 1970s, using text as part of the image, grotesquely distorted figures, and the outlandish colour palette. Meanwhile, in the case of Sweden, Olle Widhe’s article offers excellent examples of the DIY aesthetic, such as the naïve, deliberately child-like line drawings by the designer and leftist militant Helena Henschen for När barnen tog makten (When the Kids Seized Power, 1969). Similarly the outward simplicity of the pictures by Bernadette Deprés for the picturebook series Nicole (for the French communist publisher La Farandole), analysed here by Christophe Meunier, marked a clear visual break with the hitherto dominant style of realism in popular series such as Martine (for the French-speaking children), or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.

Ill. 7: Heinz Edelmann, cover illustration for Hans Stempel and Martin Ripkens, Andromedar SR1, Cologne, Gertraud Middelhauve Verlag, 1970

Ill. 8: Nicole Claveloux, illustration for Guy Monreal, Alala: les télémorphoses, Paris, Harlin Quist/ Ruy-Vidal, 1970

  • 22 See also Druker and Kümmerling-Meibauer (eds) Children's Literature and the Avant-Garde.

14However, as Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer underscores in her discussion of Heinz Edelmann’s influences, the visual culture that produced this ebullition in children’s literature should not be simply reduced to the countercultural and the psychedelic. There were links with pop art, and earlier, interwar avant-garde movements in children’s books, and modern art.22 Likewise, Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna’s article shows how the psychedelic or DIY styles so popular elsewhere were only of minor interest to Polish artists for children. Their avant-garde was rooted in the vernacular, in developing traditions of craftsmanship and formal innovation begun much earlier, which had by the 1960s won international critical acclaim. In Italy, Anna Martinucci’s article shows how the images for the publisher’s series Tantibambini often used the soft-edged shapes popularised by the Push Pin Studio aesthetic, but these elements were mixed with an emphasis on design that was much closer to the traditions developed in the 1950s by Bruno Munari, also adopted by Enzo and Iela Mari with impressive results.

Ill. 9: Mikhail Anikst and Arkadii Troianker, illustration for Stanislav Rassadin and Benedikt Sarnov, In the Land of the Literary Heroes, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1979

Ill. 10: Helena Henschen, cover illustration for Gunnar Ohrlander (Dr Gormander), When the Kids Seized Power, Stockholm, Gidlunds, 1969

Ill. 11: Bernadette Després, cover illustration for Andrée Clair, Nicole et Djamila, Paris, La Farandole, 1969

Ill. 12: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration for Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Little Gabriel’s Great Day, Warsaw, Ruch Publishing House, 1968

15The findings in this special issue therefore call into question, or at least nuance somewhat, the notion that there was a “visual revolution” in this period. There was certainly a brief flowering of countercultural modes in children’s book design, but this was relatively limited in time and space. The international recognition that Nicole Claveloux subsequently received, such as the award from the Bratislava Biennale for her illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, paid homage to an artist whose inspirations were far more personal, and indeed wide-ranging than just the countercultural (which could be seen early on, in works such as her illustrations for the Forêt des lilas (Lilac forest, 1970.) The international success and recognition from the early 1970s that was enjoyed by artists such as Iela and Enzo Mari, Leo Leonni, Tomi Ungerer and Maurice Sendak underscores the great wealth of talent in children’s book illustration in this period. In other words, this moment was characterised by immense diversity, and with great variations in time and place. It might be more helpful to think of it as a renaissance, drawing upon the rich tradition of children’s illustration and visual culture, rather than a revolution, with its attendant notion of rupture.

  • 23 “Littérature enfantine: attention danger !” interview with Jannick Jossin, L’Express, 11-17 Decembe (...)
  • 24 Bruno Bettelheim, “The Care and Feeding of Monsters”, Ladies Home Journal, 48 (1969).

16Still, the books attracted the attention of critics, and a certain amount of negative press. In 1972, the famous French child psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto, in the widely read magazine L’Express, published an article denouncing these picturebooks for children marked by the spirit of ’68. For her, the new aesthetic threatened to block children’s psychic development, and she feared it was a dangerous revolutionary movement that was deliberately targeting the children of the social elite.23 Likewise, Maurice Sendak’s Wild things was famously attacked by the child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim in 1969.24 Pictures for children had been the subject of much discussion and theorising in education circles from the 1930s on. The delirious chromatic and stylistic experimentations and well-aimed targeting of taboo subjects in certain ’68 era picturebooks was of concern to intellectuals who were not necessarily as visually literate, reactivating an age-old distrust of images over text. Nevertheless, over the course of the decades of the 60s and 70s, earlier or later depending on the country, the iconophobia of education specialists would begin to be displaced from the printed page to the moving image, which television was bringing into peoples’ homes. Articles warning of the pernicious influence of the image moved from the books to television. Moreover, it is hard to trace in Europe any large-scale backlash against this new visual culture for children. The proof is perhaps in the successful careers in mainstream publishing houses that many of the artists cited above went on to enjoy.

Liberation

  • 25 On the history of the children’s rights movement in this period, see Michael Grossberg’s chapter “L (...)
  • 26 “Liberation and caretaking”, p. 20.

17The real radicalism was to be found not so much in the form as in the content, and even more so in the new ideas they reflected on childhood and the ways people sought to speak to children. The countercultural turbulence that stretched before and after the pivotal year of 1968 was characterised by a search for new forms of social organization and political action. The authority structures underpinning western capitalist society were challenged and re-conceptualised, as the ‘68ers clashed with the police, the army, governments, universities and school, but also began to re-examine regimes and power structures, including the family. This moment catalysed liberation movements for women and the gay rights movement, for example. For some, the child appeared to be the ultimate symbol of the oppressed, as they were legal minors with few rights, and without a voice.25 Thus the 1960s and 70s witnessed a peak in the liberationist interpretation of children’s rights activism, in opposition to the protectionist, cocooning approach identified for the postwar period. As Michael Grossberg explains, this was predicated on a very different conception of childhood, grounded in their fundamental humanity and asserted “the young, particularly as they age, should be granted significant self-determination, autonomy and control over the decisions that affect their lives – much like adults”.26

18Logically, the most important site for this children’s liberation movement to contest was schools. The articles brought together in this special issue highlight the groundswell of movements questioning educational structures that surged in the ’68 years, and formed the backdrop to many of the new ideas in children’s culture and media. Berit Brink explores the free schooling and unschooling movements that developed in the US from 1964 onwards, while Marie-Laure Viaud traces the renewed interest in alternative schools in France around ‘68. Brink shows how the counterculture’s celebration of the rebellious spirit of youth can be traced back to the anti-authoritarian legacy of the Marxist Frankfurt School, which she suggests was coupled with an idealization of childhood as a potentially revolutionary model. For this reason, in the 1960s, developing new educational models and schooling became one of the ways in which a section of the counterculture led a utopian drive to transform education. Nurturing individual imagination and creativity were seen as ways to overcome the stifling conformism of mass schooling systems, and, it was hoped, to raise a liberated generation that could potentially overthrow the existing social order. The moves to set up free schools were then followed in the 1970s, in the US at least, by the much “unschooling” movement, in which children were given control over their own education, and which brought to the fore the idea of home schooling. Brink’s polemical essay argues this eventually led to the movement losing its social engagement, and argues for returning to the idea of “magical childhoods” of the radical ‘60s.

19In Europe, publications such as Ivan Illich’s Deschooling society (1971) spread these radical ideas, and the ’68 years were characterised by a renewed interest in alternative schools. In many cases, the results of this activism were more modest reforms within the schooling system. The question of institutions and education policy was an adult affair. Yet children’s media and culture was also very much engaged in the questioning of schools. In the picturebook Ah! Ernesto, published by the Franco-American duo Harlin Quist-Ruy-Vidal Marguerite Duras offered children an excoriating critique of the school system, in which young pupil Ernesto is likened to a butterfly pinned to the classroom wall: “it’s a crime”. The British pedagogue, A.S. Neill, founder of the famous alternative free school at Summerhill, set out his pedagogy in the fantasy novel for children, The last man alive (1969). Also in England, the writer and activist Leila Berg launched the school reader series “Nippers” with Macmillan in 1968. The series was designed to be a riposte to the all-white, middle-class world portrayed by the popular Ladybird “Key Words” series and other school reading books of the time. Lucy Pearson’s article on the series for this issue stresses the importance of reading it in the context of Berg’s passionate campaigning in defence of the progressive London school, Risinghill, which was closed down in 1965. With Nippers, she set out to commission books that did not shy away from depicting the harsh realities of life on the breadline, but that also showed the warm and joyful aspects of working-class and immigrant family lives. Predictably, the series provoked outrage, but proved very popular with schoolchildren.

Ill. 13: Bernard Bonhomme, illustration for Marguerite Duras, Ah! Ernesto Harlin Quist/ Ruy-Vidal, 1971

  • 27 Klaus Petersen and Per Jensen, Den lille røde bog for skoleelever: En bog og en masse ballade i 19 (...)
  • 28 Patricia Holland’s Picturing Childhood: The Myth of the Child in Popular Imagery (London: I.B. Taur (...)

20New ways of thinking about school were both a way of protesting against the established order, and an opportunity to express new values, such as those put forward by the children’s rights movement. In Denmark in 1969, two teachers and a psychologist, Bo Dan Andersen, Jesper Jansen and Søren Hansen wrote Den lille røde bog for skoleelever (The little red schoolbook).27 They produced it in protest against the authoritarian school system, and their aim was to educate schoolchildren about democracy, school and social issues such as sex and drugs. Put simply, it was a manual for revolt in schools, that gave children the political tools to empower themselves against the authority structures that oppressed them. It was swiftly translated into many European languages, and, caused an international uproar, which will be set out below. The calls for children’s rights also caught school pupils’ imaginations, as discussed by David Buckingham’s article on the special issue of the English underground publication, the Schoolkids’ Oz. He notes that while popular memory has retained only the sensationalist aspects of the magazine, many of the articles written by the schoolchildren in question were thoughtful, cogently written discussions of issues in schools such as arbitrary punishment, examinations, and “clearly relate to the concerns of the Schools Action Union”. Schoolchildren were in some cases also inspired to produce their own ‘zines and pamphlets denouncing the system.28

21Many saw children’s media as a way to promote children’s empowerment. Helle Strandgaard Jensen’s study of Scandinavian children’s television for this period shows how a new generation of broadcasters hoped that television would be the answer, by becoming children’s “spokesperson” (when they as minors had no voice), and giving them access to information about the word they lived in. They pioneered children’s news programmes, and even (in a less successful experiment) gave children video cameras and let them make programmes. In France, the Catholic publisher Bayard launched a magazine for young adolescents in 1971. As Cécile Boulaire notes in her article, Okapi’s watchwords seemed to be autonomy and awareness of responsibility. This was particularly marked in the dialogue between magazine and readers in the letters pages. In response to its young readers’ requests to speak more about social justice, political protest and sex, the magazine’s news coverage became increasingly militant, focusing on immigrant workers’ rights, strike action at the Lipp factory, and, somewhat surprisingly for a Catholic publication, abortion.

  • 29 Kim Reynolds develops this point in Radical children’s literature, chapter 1, see especially p. 2.

22Children’s culture became a site for the political contestation of the age. This was by no means a new phenomenon (indeed, it is in many ways integral to children’s culture29), but the tone in the ‘68 years was inflected by new ideas on psychology, on children’s need for autonomy and empowerment, and, in the west, gender roles and sexuality. Martina Winkler’s article underscores how a new generation of authors emerged in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. Helena Šmahelová’s novels, for example, led what Winkler terms a “new wave”, which sought to break with the dominance of stories exalting socialist virtues. Instead, Šmahelová used ideas from recent developments in child psychology to explore the individual emotions of her characters. This new wave depicted a “modern childhood” that dealt with the aesthetic and emotional drawbacks of a modern society, and questioned the socialist faith in progress. Novels and films by Iva Hercíková and Josef Bouček went even further, and began to openly question the political order. The renewed interest in child psychology, which would continue in Czechoslovakian children’s media even beyond the repression of ’68, brought with it a different idea of children´s agency. For Winkler, Czech children’s media promoted a modern, reflexive childhood, which included attributing rights and agency to children and a renegotiation of the relationship of adults and children, which she argues was directly comparable to the children’s rights movements taking place in countries beyond the iron curtain.

  • 30 “Sous les pavés, l’album : des influences croisées d’une période et d’un genre littéraire”, Revue d (...)
  • 31 Benjamin Spock, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was first published in 1946, and then (...)
  • 32 “A New Wind Blowing from the Left: The Surge of Anti-Authoritarian Picturebooks in Germany after 19 (...)

23Children’s books and new approaches to child-rearing could offer a “second front”, to borrow the term employed by the French publisher Christian Bruel, through which to effect change where the political aims of the ‘68ers had failed.30 Dr Spock revised his famous childcare manual to explain how gentle (often labelled “permissive” by his critics) parenting was perhaps the only hope to prevent nuclear holocaust, and, inspired by the second wave feminist movement, how parents could avoid gender stereotyping.31 Olle Widhe details how Frances Vestin’s New Leftist childcare manual argued children had to be taught to disobey authority – obeying orders had led to concentration camp guards agreeing to gas Jewish children. In West Germany, Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer has shown how the New Left turned to children’s books to promote radical anti-authoritarianism, to provide children with the analytical tools they needed to challenge the established order, still tainted by its failure to purge itself of its Nazi past.32 Militants founded new publishing houses, such as Basis Verlag and Oberbaumverlag (both in Berlin), März Verlag (Frankfurt), and Weismann Verlag (Munich). Weismann Verlag’s slogan is typical of the tone, with a quote from the German poet Joachim Ringelnatz: “Children, you should trust yourself! Do not allow to be lied to, and refuse beatings by adults. Consider this: Five children are sufficient to spank a grandmother!” (originally published in 1924; translation by Kümmerling-Meibauer). Heywood’s article details how the Franco-American publishing house, Editions Harlin Quist also adopted the language of children’s rights in their books, that were both aesthetically experimental and set out to challenge prevailing ideas on the place of the child in society.

  • 33 Lost freedom, p. 206.

24David Buckingham’s article however strikes a cautionary note; this rhetoric of rights and empowerment could be hollow, as illustrated by Oz magazine editor Richard Neville’s cynical manipulation of schoolchildren and their concerns to attract media attention. Certainly in the UK, the children’s rights movement became mired in scandals, such as the Oz trial, and around the publication of the “Children’s bust book”, which advised children on what to do if they were arrested. Mathew Thomson notes the tensions inherent in the movement, which, when taken to the logical conclusion of handing over power to children, “push[ed] this way of thinking towards a breaking point”.33

  • 34 On the links between feminism and “68”, see Bibia Pavard, Les éditions des femmes: histoire des pre (...)
  • 35 Leslie Paris, “Happily Ever After: Free to Be … You and Me, Second-Wave Feminism, and 1970s America (...)
  • 36 Bulletin du collectif “Pour un autre merveilleux”, July 1976. The archives of Sourire qui Mord and (...)
  • 37 See Pavard, Les éditions des femmes, especially her interview with Turin on this imprint, pp. 88-90

25Still, the idea of transforming society through liberating children from the conventions of society produced one of the most enduring and important campaigns of this “second front”, and that was feminism.34 As young feminist activists became mothers, and inspired by Simone de Beauvoir’s theory that “one is not born a woman, but becomes one”, alternative methods of child-rearing, free from sexist stereotypes and gender conditioning, became important. In the US for example, the feminist collective Group 22 set up Lollipop Power in 1970, whose members wrote, edited, printed and distributed their own children’s books. Their books offered children a vision of society in which they offered a completely different vision of power relations between men and women, adults and children, and people of different ethnicities. Stories revolved around daycare, a father looking after his child, or what it was like to go to school in a new country, and featured many different configurations of families, including some of the first books to feature lesbian mothers. On a more commercial scale, the American actress Marlo Thomas produced the Free to be… you and me album in 1972, in which well-known singers and actors sang about how children could live their lives free from harmful gender stereotypes and prejudice.35 In Italy, the feminist activist Adela Turin turned her hand to publishing and book writing, having been moved to act by Elena Gianini Belotti’s book, Dalla parte delle bambine [On the side of the girls], denouncing sexism in children’s literature. In 1975, Turin set up a publishing house with the same name, and, in partnership with the French feminist publisher éditions des femmes, began to publish overtly feminist books for girls. Christian Bruel’s collective in France, “Collectif pour un autre merveilleux” [Collective for a different fairyland] followed suit in 1976, with the now classic text, Julie qui avait une ombre de garçon [Story of Julie who had a boy’s shadow], on the impact of gendered identity norms on children. “Is it not reassuring to realise you are not a monster, that you are not alone?” explained the accompanying pamphlet.36 These French and Italian books are explored in three articles in this issue. Nelly Chabrol Gagne juxtaposes the pastel-coloured, static environment of Martine, one of the most famous French-language series for girls from the mid-twentieth century, with the world in movement in a selection of feminist texts for girls. Antoniazzi compares conservative and radical books for girls around 68 in Italy, while Heywood explores the publishing history of the French feminists. The Franco-Italian partnership Dalla parte delle bambine/ Du côté des petites filles was a commercial success. According to Adela Turin their books regularly had print runs of up to 80,000 copies.37 Many of these feminist titles remain in print today.

Ill. 14: Nella Bosnia, cover illustration for Adela Turin, Rosaconfetto, Milan, edizioni dalla parte delle bambine, 1975

Ill 15: Anne Bozellec, cover illustration for Christian Bruel and Annie Galland, Histoire de Julie avec une ombre de garçon, Paris, Sourire qui mord, 1976

Circulations

26The cross-European scope of this issue brings into relief the role played by cultural transfer in the spread of radical culture for children. It also sheds light on how the various historiographical traditions indicate very different directions of travel: not all national traditions experienced this moment in the same way, nor did they find their influences in the same sources. We have thus far tried to point up the commonalities and differences of experiences, but here we highlight some of the ways in which cultural exchange spread and further developed radical ideas on children’s culture in this period, and where they found warm reception, and had most impact. This final section poses more questions than it can answer – it brings together some of the ideas that became apparent as this issue progressed, in the hope of stimulating further research into these questions. Gathering these articles together begs the question to what extent can we discern the existence of an international counterculture for children? Where are the important axes for collaboration, and what is the direction of travel of ideas?

  • 38 See the chapters by Geneviève Dreyfus-Armand and Robert Frank in Geneviève Dreyfus-Armand, Robert F (...)
  • 39 Lars Bang Larsen, “The Mass Utopia of Art Activism: Palle Nielsen’s The Model – A Model for a Quali (...)

27Historians have underscored the internationalism and – to a certain extent – shared culture of ’68. While the timeframes for the main events in different countries and regions were not the same, and the different protest movements were not usually in direct communication, several symbols and cultural tropes were recognised by youth movements around the world. These included the figures of Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Chairman Mao, and Che Guevara, who were revered for their resistance to American imperialism and as social revolutionary leaders. International protest movements coalesced around resistance to the Vietnam War, which was the first war to be televised.38 And we can also find examples of this shared ’68 culture in children’s media. Heywood’s article points to Marguerite Duras, who was “so mobilised” by the Vietnam war when writing the picturebook Ah! Ernesto for Editions Harlin Quist in 1968, that everything else seemed unimportant. The protagonist’s name was a homage to Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Palle Nielsen’s exhibition in 1968, “The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society” at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm included an enormous playground for children to play on, but also 200 carnival masks of Fidel Castro, Chairman Mao, Charles de Gaulle and President Johnson “to emphasise the political nature of role-playing.”39 Likewise, the cross-fertilisations between psychedelia and pop art in children’s and adults’ art reveal how the international counterculture spread very quickly, and across generations. However, the shared culture of rebellion in children’s media was also following different imperatives. It was multi-layered, and did not simply obey patterns identified for the “adult” ’68. The analysis of the origins of this moment underscored the importance of American Cold War culture and emphasis on the family as a key catalyst in the protest culture for children’s ’68.

  • 40 Farina (ed) La casa delle meraviglie, p. 62; Arthur Hubschmid, “Témoignage d’un éditeur: quarante a (...)

28The children’s ’68 was in part driven by the fact that cultural exchange in children’s culture was being fostered in more structural ways. The 1960s saw the launch of the Bologna Bookfair (1963), the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (1967), IBBY’s Hans Christian Andersen Award (for writing, 1956, for illustrations, 1966), the Prix Jeunesse for children’s television (1964), while the European Broadcasting Union sub-committee for children and young people became permanent in the mid 1960s and held its first workshop on production in 1968 at the British Broadcasting Corporation. These structures helped to spread innovation in form and content as well as new ideas on the function of children’s culture. Several of the publishers who are now considered to be main players in the “children’s ‘68”, such as L’École des Loisirs (founded in 1965) and Emme Edizioni (founded in 1966), for France and Italy respectively, cite the Frankfurt and Bologna Bookfairs as having played a key role in shaping their ideas. Initially the lists for both presses were mostly made up of imported content. They wanted to stimulate the children’s literary fields at home through importing exciting material from abroad.40 The creation of the European common market was a further stimulus to co-productions. This was particularly the case for media such as children’s picturebooks, as they favoured co-editions due to the expense of producing colour illustrations, and the relative ease with which images could “translate” across markets. However, by the late 1960s, the economic miracle was slowing in many countries, and then in the mid 1970s, disaster struck. The aesthetic provocations described above were expensive to produce, and not cheap for consumers. Publishers on the margins not just politically, but also financially, often saw co-editions as the answer.

  • 41 Images a la page, p. 21; for Italy, see Sola and Vassali, I nostri anni 70, pp. 31-3.

29Several axes of exchange in radical culture emerge, the first of which was introduced above, and that was from the US to Europe. The influence of artists such as Sendak and Ungerer and the New York picturebooks scene cannot be understated for the cases of France and Italy at least. Christiane Abbadie-Clerc writes of how Maurice Sendak’s Where the wild things are became the “manifesto” for the “visual revolution” in children’s books in France, and was important for Italians as well.41 This was by no means a straightforward story of one-way traffic however. It was more about European/ American cross-fertilisation, as some ideas received more enthusiastic reception, or had more profound impact on other markets. And of course, as underscored earlier, the European origins or heritage of these artists were key to forming their ideas.

  • 42 Farina (ed) La casa delle meraviglie, p. 59.
  • 43 Ibid., p. 73.

30Another important area of circulation was Intra-European. The Franco-Italian axis is one example of these important axes of cultural exchange. It had begun in the late 1960s, formed by Emme Edizioni’s co-editions and translations of Harlin Quist Books, and the École des Loisirs. Archinto translated and published the whole of the Harlin Quist books series, until the Franco-American partnership imploded in litigation and bad blood.42 Later the Franco-Italian connection would be crucial in funding European feminist publishing with the della parte delle bambine/ du côté des petites filles co-edition, eventually translated into other languages. It should be noted here that Italy produced some of the great children’s authors and illustrators of the period: Leo Lionni, Enzo and Iela Mari, Bruno Munari, Gianni Rodari, to name but a few. Enzo and Iela Mari’s books in particular sold well abroad. Archinto cites Edelmann’s publisher Middelhauve, NordSud Verlag, Ellermann Verlag all for Germany, as well as English publishers such as Cape and Heinemann as fellow collaborators.43

  • 44 This exchange was translated and reprinted in the journal L’Arc, 29 (1966), pp. 86-91.

31This European travel of ideas was also between East and West. In Poland in the 1950s and 60s the effervescence of the Polish poster school, and graphic arts more generally, influenced western children’s publishers. Marguerite Duras’ Ah! Ernesto (1972), features on the final page a photomontage by Roman Cieslewicz. Many of the leftist critics who played important role in generating the debates around children’s culture that drove the children’s ‘68 looked to Soviet countries with admiration and found a source of inspiration. Eastern bloc children’s culture was seen as being untainted by commercialism, and therefore by the low practices of publishers and producers who had little concern for art or for children’s wellbeing in their pursuit of profit. This was the tenor, for example, of the discussion between Marc Soriano and the journal Zlatjy Maj on Jules Verne44. Similarly, Strandgaard Jensen notes the Czech influence on the influential book Skräpkultur åt barnen (Trash Culture for Children, 1968) by the Swedish scholar, author, and TV producer Gunila Ambjörnsson. She drew upon her trip to Czechoslovakia to develop ideas for renewing Scandinavian children’s culture. She argued that Czech socialist literature respected children, and that socialists in the USSR could produce much more sophisticated and interesting culture because they did not have to obey commercial imperatives.

  • 45 See Lévêque’s article in this issue and her book, Littérature allemande pour la jeunesse, pp. 94-8.

32The final source of incendiary ideas that helped provoke an international backlash against the children’s ’68 was Scandinavia. Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking, 1945) was the first transnational precursor of rebellious childhood. Astrid Lindgren’s anarchic Swedish heroine deserves a special mention here. Pippi had been something of an outlier in postwar children’s literature, thanks to the book’s joyful lampooning of authority structures (family, school, police, care structures), that all formed the pillars of postwar reconstruction. Mathilde Lévêque notes her importance for German children’s literature. The Federal Republic of Germany became the country where Pippi was most popular, outside of Scandinavia. Pippi helped to inspire a new school of West German children’s authors whose novels in the 1950s and ‘60s placed the accent on fantasy, psychological depth, and children’s autonomy that paved the way for the radicals of ‘68.45 (Although the West German translation weakened some of the anti-authoritarian and nonsensical aspects of the book, and her brown stockings were changed to striped ones, so as to avoid unfortunate associations with the Hitlerjugend). Winkler also highlights the significance of Astrid Lindgren´s writings for modern childhoods in Czechoslovakia in the same period. In the ’68 years, Olle Widhe’s research shows how the Swedish New Left’s “manuals for revolution” for children owed an important debt to Pippi’s “muscular, economic and verbal power to denigrate adults”.

Ill. 16: Richard Kennedy, cover illustration for Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking, translated by Edna Hurup, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1954

  • 46 The decision can be consulted online: Handyside v. the United Kingdom,(Application no. 5493/72) Jud (...)

33This new current produced the second key Scandinavian work from an international perspective: Bo Dan Andersen, Jesper Jansen and Søren Hansen’s Little red schoolbook. This Danish book caused a sensation when exported: it went to trial in the UK in 1971, and was only allowed to circulate in an expurgated version. In France, it was banned outright. The Greek publisher was imprisoned. The English publisher Richard Handyside took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1972 after a UK court decided the sections on sex could “deprave and corrupt” young people. In a landmark decision, the European court upheld the UK court’s ruling.46 This was based in part on the fact the book was aimed at children, and accessible to even very young children. It ruled that each state had the right to decide for itself, within certain limits, on the moral protection of its citizens. The little red schoolbook and the subsequent outrage show us that not only was the children’s ’68 a transnational phenomenon, in which radical ideas and culture for children spread quickly, but the angry responses did as well.

Ill. 17: Bo Dan Andersen, Søren Hansen and Jesper Jensen Andersen, Den lille røde bog for skoleelever (The little red schoolbook) Copenhagen, Hans Reitzels forlag, 1969

Ill. 18: French-language editions of the Little red schoolbook, Paris, Maspero, 1971 and Lausanne, CEDIPS, 1971

Ill. 19: English edition of the Little red schoolbook, London, stage one, 1971

Conclusion

  • 47 For information on the book’s circulation, see Handyside v. the United Kingdom, (Application no. 54 (...)

34The children’s ’68 was loud, explosive, colourful, and, at times, extreme. But was it revolutionary? The most audacious and provocative of these publications and cultural products point to an ebullition that was above all concentrated in avant-garde and intellectual circles, whilst the alternative schooling movement only really concerned a small number of children in the 1970s. Some were considered so extreme that they were either censored immediately (as in the case of Maspero’s French edition of the Little red schoolbook) or were never broadcast, such as the Danish television programme Cirkeline og flugten fra Amerika (Cirkeline and the escape from America, 1970). Ought we to conclude that the impact of these cultural products and radical ideas was in this way attenuated by the restricted circles in which they circulated? We should first of all note that not all the media products discussed in this issue were commercial failures. The Little red schoolbook’s sulphurous reputation boosted its sales, even in countries where it had been banned.47 Feminist books enjoyed sales and distribution that were impressive for marginal publishers. More saliently, many of the products we look at were not received at the time as revolutionary. Certainly in some of the countries discussed in this issue, there was not such a clear division between what we might term “the establishment”, and the counter-culture. In the UK and Scandinavia, for example, Pearson and Strandgaard Jensen demonstrate respectively how mainstream publishing houses, schools and national broadcasting services proved receptive to the experimental media of the ’68 years. Boulaire notes that even the French Catholic publishing house Bayard became interested in recruiting avant-garde editors and artists to work on their magazine for adolescents, Okapi. The respected French publisher Gallimard opened a juvenile department in 1972, and would recruit many of the artists of the avant-garde. And, as noted above, there are continuities that can be traced to the earlier, twentieth-century avant-garde. The notion of the ’68 years witnessing rupture and revolution might be replaced instead by seeing this period as one of renaissance and renewal.

35Even if we seek to emphasise continuity as well as change, the way such ideas manifested in the ‘68 years still must be historicised. The period had been strongly marked by the impact of World War Two and the Cold War, and their impact on ideas of children and their culture. We argue that this context ensured the children’s ’68 was profoundly anti-authoritarian in nature, its rhetoric shaped by the language of rights and liberation, and focused on challenging the power structures within the institutions that shape the lives of the young. The books published by feminist collectives, or children’s rights campaigners such as Leila Berg, opened the way for a gradual acceptance of the idea that children’s media should try to reflect a diversity of perspectives; such as those of girls, but also disabled children, people from immigrant backgrounds and ethnic minorities. Such ideas may have penetrated institutions and the mainstream in some cases, as noted above, but only partially, and many of the books published in the ’68 years still appear radical today. In this sense, if ’68 is perceived to have been a moment of paroxysm, of revolutionary effervescence, we should also recognise that its ideas continue to resonate and be debated in children’s culture today, from media products to educational policy, fifty years later.

Haut de page

Notes

1 See for example, the special issue of Revue des livres pour enfants entitled “1965-1975, la mutation d'un paysage?” 244 (2008). For a full bibliography, see Heywood’s article on France in this issue.

2 From Superman to Social Realism: Children’s media and Scandinavian childhood (Amsterdam, John Benjamins Press, 2016), p. 2.

3 Paola Vassali, “Pagine rivoluzionarie”, Silvana Sola and Paola Vassali (eds), I nostri anni 70: libri per ragazzi in Italia (Mantova, Maurizio Corraini, 2014)

4 For example, Lucy Pearson, The making of modern children’s literature in Britain. Publishing and criticism in the 1960s and 1970s (Farnham, Ashgate, 2013) – she also made this point in her conference paper delivered to the conference associated with this project, in Tours, October 2017.

5 See Marwick’s reviews of 1968: The World Transformed and Les Années 1968: Le temps de la contestation, both for The English Historical Review, 459 (1999), pp.1384-1385 and 474 (2002), pp.1391-1393 respectively, and his book The Sixties: Social and Cultural Transformation in Britain, France, Italy and the United States, 1958-74 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998).

6 Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 1.

7 For example, Martin Klimke and Joachim Scharloth’s edited volume begins in 1957, 1968 in Europe. A History of Protest and Activism, 1956–1977 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), while Philippe Artières and Michelle Zancarini-Fournel (eds) take the period up to the early 1980s: 68, une histoire collective (1962-1981) (Paris, Editions La Découverte, 2015).

8 Daniel J. Sherman, Ruud van Dijk, Jasmine Alinder and A. Aneesh (eds) The Long 1968: Revisions and New Perspectives, Indiana Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2013, “Introduction”, p. 2.

9 “Rethinking May 68”, Julian Jackson, Anna-Louise Milne, and James Williams (eds) May 68: Rethinking France's Last Revolution, pp. 3-16, especially p. 4.

10 There is a large literature on the interwar avant-garde. Most relevant here, although she admits it is largely English-language in its focus, is Kimberly Reynolds’ Radical children’s literature: future visions and aesthetic transformations in juvenile fiction (Houndmills, Palgrave, 2007), chapter 2. For a cross-European perspective, see Elina Druker and Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (eds) Children's Literature and the Avant-Garde (Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 2016).

11 Thomson, Lost Freedom, Introduction.

12 See for example Strandgaard Jensen, From Batman to social realism, pp. 43-66; Mathilde Lévêque, Histoire de la littérature allemande pour la jeunesse (Paris, Éditions Thierry Marchaisse, 2017), chapter 8. For cross-European and global perspectives, see Thierry Crépin and Thierry Groensteen (eds) On tue à chaque page! La loi de 1949 sur les publications destinées à la jeunesse (Paris, éditions du temps, 1999) and John A. Lent, “The comics debate internationally”, in Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester (eds), Comics studies reader, Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 2009, pp. 69-76.

13 In Britain, the popular theories on child psychology and attachment parenting developed by John Bowlby are another good example of the impact of the war years on ideas of children as fragile, see Thomson Lost freedom, chapter 3. In France see for example, Alfred Brauner, Nos livres d’enfants ont menti ! Une base de discussion (Paris, SABRI, 1951), also the deliberations of the 1949 law committee develop the same ideas, as does Mathilde Leriche’s series of articles for the progressive education magazine Vers l’Éducation Nouvelle in 1950, issues 44 and 45.

14 “Why Batman was Bad. A Scandinavian debate about children’s consumption of comics and literature in the 1950s”, Barn, 3 (2010) pp. 47–70, p. 66.

15 Les Petits Livres d’or : Des albums pour enfants dans la France de la guerre froide, (Tours, Presses Universitaires François-Rabelais, 2016).

16 See for example Loredana Farina (ed) La casa delle meraviglie: La Emme Edizioni di Rosellina Archinto (Milan, Topipittori, 2013), pp. 29-39; Kimberly Reynolds, “Publishing Practices”, Kimberly Reynolds and Nicholas Tucker (eds), Children’s book publishing in Britain since 1945 (Aldershot, Ashgate) pp. 1998) pp. 20-41. Pearson, The making of modern children’s literature, also highlights the American influence, p. 20.

17 Interview with Tomi Ungerer and Judith Kerr, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 4 October 2011, http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9604000/9604157.stm

18 Julia L. Mickenberg, Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006), see introduction, and especially pp. 5-6.

19 Michael Grossberg, “Liberation and caretaking: fighting over children’s rights in postwar America”, Paula S. Fass and Michael Grossberg (eds), Reinventing childhood after World War II (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 19-37, on the ALA see pp. 27-8.

20 Maurice Sendak, Caldecott Medal acceptance speech, 30 June 1964.

21 See for example Christiane Clerc et al (eds) Images à la Page. Une histoire de l'image dans les livres pour enfants (Paris, Gallimard Jeunesse, 1984); Sola and Vassali (eds), I nostri anni 70. This creativity was celebrated in a special edition of the Swiss design magazine Graphis, 131 (1967).

22 See also Druker and Kümmerling-Meibauer (eds) Children's Literature and the Avant-Garde.

23 “Littérature enfantine: attention danger !” interview with Jannick Jossin, L’Express, 11-17 December 1972, pp. 139-40.

24 Bruno Bettelheim, “The Care and Feeding of Monsters”, Ladies Home Journal, 48 (1969).

25 On the history of the children’s rights movement in this period, see Michael Grossberg’s chapter “Liberation and caretaking”, in the UK see Thomson, Lost Freedom, chapter 4, and Buckingham and Pearson’s articles in this issue, for Sweden, see Olle Widhe’s article, which also has a more extensive bibliography.

26 “Liberation and caretaking”, p. 20.

27 Klaus Petersen and Per Jensen, Den lille røde bog for skoleelever: En bog og en masse ballade i 1969.” Arbejderhistorie: Tidsskrift for Historie, Kultur Og Politik 2-3 (2005), pp. 85-98; David Limond, The UK edition of The Little Red Schoolbook: a paper tiger reflects”, Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, 12 (2012), pp 523-534. Heywood and Strandgaard Jensen have co-authored a forthcoming article on the international publishing history of The little red schoolbook.

28 Patricia Holland’s Picturing Childhood: The Myth of the Child in Popular Imagery (London: I.B. Tauris, 2004)

discusses pupils’ magazines in the UK, while Ludivine Bantigny has edited a collection of similar material by French schoolchildren: La fabuleuse histoire des journaux lycéens (Paris, Les Arènes, 2014), and their role in the French ‘68 is the subject of Didier Leschi and Robi Morder’s Quand les lycéens prenaient la parole. Les années 68 (Paris, éditions Syllepse, 2018).

29 Kim Reynolds develops this point in Radical children’s literature, chapter 1, see especially p. 2.

30 “Sous les pavés, l’album : des influences croisées d’une période et d’un genre littéraire”, Revue des livres pour enfants 241 (2008), pp. 89-97, see especially pp. 95-6.

31 Benjamin Spock, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was first published in 1946, and then re-issued under the new title Baby and Child Care in 1957, 1968 and 1976, then as Dr Spock’s Baby and Childcare in 1985.

32 “A New Wind Blowing from the Left: The Surge of Anti-Authoritarian Picturebooks in Germany after 1968”, blog post for the Children’s 68, https://children68.hypotheses.org/334, published 25 November 2017.

33 Lost freedom, p. 206.

34 On the links between feminism and “68”, see Bibia Pavard, Les éditions des femmes: histoire des premières années, 1972-79 (Paris, L’Harmattan, 2005) pp. 36-43; Ann Taylor Allen, Women in twentieth-century Europe (Houndmill, Palgrave, 2008), chapter 7.

35 Leslie Paris, “Happily Ever After: Free to Be … You and Me, Second-Wave Feminism, and 1970s American Children’s Culture”, Julia Mickenberg and Lynne Vallone (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011).

36 Bulletin du collectif “Pour un autre merveilleux”, July 1976. The archives of Sourire qui Mord and Bruel’s subsequent publishing venture, Editions Être, are both preserved at the University of Clermont-Ferrand Special Collections, http://bibliotheque.clermont-universite.fr/fonds-christian-bruel. The Sourire qui Mord documents are under BCU cote C10124.

37 See Pavard, Les éditions des femmes, especially her interview with Turin on this imprint, pp. 88-90.

38 See the chapters by Geneviève Dreyfus-Armand and Robert Frank in Geneviève Dreyfus-Armand, Robert Frank, Marie-Françoise Lévy and Michelle Zancarini-Fournel (eds), Les années 68. Le temps de la contestation (Brussels, Editions Complexe, 2000).

39 Lars Bang Larsen, “The Mass Utopia of Art Activism: Palle Nielsen’s The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society”, Lars Bang Larsen, Bartomeu Marí, Palle Nielsen (eds) Palle Nielsen. The Model - A Model for a Qualitative Society (Barelona, MACBA Collection, 2010), https://www.macba.cat/PDFs/lars_bang_larsen_eng.pdf

40 Farina (ed) La casa delle meraviglie, p. 62; Arthur Hubschmid, “Témoignage d’un éditeur: quarante ans à l’École des loisirs”, Regards sur le livre et la lecture des jeunes: la Joie par les livres a 40 ans ! (Paris, La Joie par les livres, 2005), pp. 83-90; pp. 84-6.

41 Images a la page, p. 21; for Italy, see Sola and Vassali, I nostri anni 70, pp. 31-3.

42 Farina (ed) La casa delle meraviglie, p. 59.

43 Ibid., p. 73.

44 This exchange was translated and reprinted in the journal L’Arc, 29 (1966), pp. 86-91.

45 See Lévêque’s article in this issue and her book, Littérature allemande pour la jeunesse, pp. 94-8.

46 The decision can be consulted online: Handyside v. the United Kingdom,(Application no. 5493/72) Judgment Strasbourg, 7 December 1976: http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/1976/5.html.

47 For information on the book’s circulation, see Handyside v. the United Kingdom, (Application no. 5493/72).

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Table des illustrations

Légende Ill. 1: Logo, “Du côté des petites filles”, éditions des femmes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 321k
Légende Ill. 2: “Il faut agir !” (We must act!) badge distributed with the magazine Okapi
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Légende Ill. 3: Front and back covers, Brigitte Wengoborski, Fünf Finger sind eine Faust (Five fingers make a fist), Basis Verlag, 1969
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
Légende Ill. 4: Front cover, “The Children’s Bust Book”, supplement to Children’s rights, May-June 1972
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Légende Ill. 5: Janet Frank, Tibor Gergely, Nos Papas, 1954. French edition of Daddies, A Little Golden Book, 1954
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Légende Ill. 6: Tomi Ungerer, illustration for The Three robbers, 1963
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Légende Ill. 7: Heinz Edelmann, cover illustration for Hans Stempel and Martin Ripkens, Andromedar SR1, Cologne, Gertraud Middelhauve Verlag, 1970
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 232k
Légende Ill. 8: Nicole Claveloux, illustration for Guy Monreal, Alala: les télémorphoses, Paris, Harlin Quist/ Ruy-Vidal, 1970
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k
Légende Ill. 9: Mikhail Anikst and Arkadii Troianker, illustration for Stanislav Rassadin and Benedikt Sarnov, In the Land of the Literary Heroes, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1979
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
Légende Ill. 10: Helena Henschen, cover illustration for Gunnar Ohrlander (Dr Gormander), When the Kids Seized Power, Stockholm, Gidlunds, 1969
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-10.png
Fichier image/png, 233k
Légende Ill. 11: Bernadette Després, cover illustration for Andrée Clair, Nicole et Djamila, Paris, La Farandole, 1969
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 328k
Légende Ill. 12: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration for Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Little Gabriel’s Great Day, Warsaw, Ruch Publishing House, 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Légende Ill. 13: Bernard Bonhomme, illustration for Marguerite Duras, Ah! Ernesto Harlin Quist/ Ruy-Vidal, 1971
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Ill. 14: Nella Bosnia, cover illustration for Adela Turin, Rosaconfetto, Milan, edizioni dalla parte delle bambine, 1975
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 112k
Légende Ill 15: Anne Bozellec, cover illustration for Christian Bruel and Annie Galland, Histoire de Julie avec une ombre de garçon, Paris, Sourire qui mord, 1976
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 80k
Légende Ill. 16: Richard Kennedy, cover illustration for Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking, translated by Edna Hurup, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1954
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Légende Ill. 17: Bo Dan Andersen, Søren Hansen and Jesper Jensen Andersen, Den lille røde bog for skoleelever (The little red schoolbook) Copenhagen, Hans Reitzels forlag, 1969
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 88k
Légende Ill. 18: French-language editions of the Little red schoolbook, Paris, Maspero, 1971 and Lausanne, CEDIPS, 1971
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 296k
Légende Ill. 19: English edition of the Little red schoolbook, London, stage one, 1971
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1998/img-19.png
Fichier image/png, 1,0M
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Référence électronique

Sophie Heywood, « Children’s 68: introduction », Strenæ [En ligne], 13 | 2018, mis en ligne le 15 mai 2018, consulté le 19 juillet 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/1998 ; DOI : 10.4000/strenae.1998

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Auteur

Sophie Heywood

Associate Professor in French Studies
Department of Modern Languages and European Studies
University of Reading, UK
Le Studium/Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research fellow in residence at InTRu (Equipe d’Accueil 6301), Université François-Rabelais de Tours - FR (2016-17)

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