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History Dept | Brooklyn College Library

HIST 3320: The History of Childhood


Instructor: Professor Swapna Banerjee Professor Swapna Banerjee
Office Address: 1127B Boylan Hall
Office Hours: Monday, 1-2 pm; Thursday, 12:30-1:30 pm & By appointment
Email WITHOUT attachments:
Email WITH attachments:

Note on e-mail correspondence:

  • Check your email and BlackBoard announcements daily.
  • For messages without attachments, send e-mail to:
  • For messages with attachments, send e-mail to:
  • The Zoom link for your classes is on the syllabus. I will also post it on BB. To check BB announcement, you need to check your registered e-mail account. The Zoom links are only for those registered for this class. 
  • Do NOT share the Zoom links with anybody else. Violation of this rule will lead to serious disciplinary action.  
  • E-mail me only for course-related matters and keep it short. Always think before you write to me.
  • I will not answer unnecessary e-mails regarding questions that are addressed in the syllabus.
  • I will NOT answer e-mails during weekends. Allow 24-48 hours for my response to your mails, even on weekdays.
  • Do NOT e-mail me for your petty illnesses or other reasons for missing classes. 
  • I will not discuss your big concerns with assignments, lectures, or readings over e-mail. For such concerns you must see me during my office hours and by appointment. 
  • ALWAYS put your <yourname> and the course number IN THE SUBJECT. 
  • Email is a FORMAL means of communication (at least when you correspond with your professors or employers, etc.). Let's treat each other with respect. Use capital letters, punctuation, greetings and salutations as in a professional message. Avoid abbreviations, slang, and cuteness.
  • The use of magic words (please, thank you) and politeness in general is strongly encouraged.
  • Sign every message at the bottom. 
  • Exchange phone numbers or email addresses with your classmates. If you happen to miss a class please do NOT ask me to summarize what we did or will do in class, or what the assignment is/was, UNLESS YOU HAVE SERIOUS REASONS. Email or text a classmate instead.

Online Class

  • Course Location: Online via Zoom
    • Lectures will be conducted synchronously via zoom.
  • Course Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 11 am-12:15 pm via zoom

IMPORTANT: If you do not have reliable and regular access to a desktop or laptop computer, headphones or internet access please go to the Brooklyn College Device Loan Requests/Returns to request equipment. Brooklyn College has Chromebooks, Laptops, iPads, Headphones and T-Mobile Hotspots that can be loaned to you. 

  • We will hold synchronous class sessions on Zoom for all classes
  • Access to Blackboard is mandatory.
    • I will post Zoom links, announcements, assignments, course materials, and relevant news items on BlackBoard.
    • Zoom links will also go to your BB e-mail. 
  • Make sure you have access to the email with which you are registered for the CUNYfirst/BB account.
    • If you do not frequently access the mail account for CUNYfirst/BB, please make the necessary changes quickly. 
  • If you cannot attend synchronous class time, you are required to write a 3-4 page paper on the assigned readings for that class. Send me the paper as an attachment to
  • I prefer that you attend class with your Zoom camera on. However, I understand that this may not always be possible. If that is the case, I would like you to actively participate in class by raising your electronic hand and/or contributing to the online chat. If your camera is off, I need to be assured that you are still actively engaged with our discussion.  
  • Although our classes will be virtual, use of cell phones during class hours is strictly prohibited.


The COVID-19 pandemic entails unpredictable challenges (Synchronous classes, meetings, etc.). If you are faced with an emergency or something in your life changes because of COVID-19 that interrupts your attendance or other commitments related to the class, please be in touch with me as soon as possible. I will adjust the assignments and accommodate your needs so that you can successfully complete the semester. 

  • I reserve the Right to Alter Reading and Writing assignments as required. The syllabus can be modified (within limits) according to the interests and intellectual curiosity of the students.
  • In turn, I expect a thorough familiarity with the Syllabus that outlines the requirements and the constituting elements of the course.  
  • For doubts and questions please contact me at your earliest—we will meet over zoom during my office hours or by appointment. Send me a short and appropriate e-mail to set up a meeting.

Course Technology

For the most part, you will need technology that will allow you to access this OER website, Blackboard, other websites and a device that has audio and video capabilities. If your internet connection is spotty, try to have a stable connection or not use WIFI when you are taking any quizzes or attending live meetings.

Brooklyn College History Discord Server

Did you know that Brooklyn College History has its own Discord server?

It includes dedicated channels for experiencing your History courses with classmates, a Virtual Lounge for discussing history and other topics with your peers, as well as a bulletin board for all the latest information about upcoming History department events.

Helpful Information on Accessing Resources Remotely

To access some items you need to use your CUNYFirst login and others you will need to enter a password given to you by your professor.

The following icons will let you know what you will need to do to access the items. 

If an item has no icon, then you don't need to do anything to access it.

Off-campus access. You will be prompted to enter your Brooklyn College ID and login.Off-campus access. Use your CUNYfirst Username and Password to log in (same credentials for logging into Blackboard).

Password protected iconPassword protected item.  You will be prompted to enter the password given to you by your Professor.

open access item.Open Access item.  Free to use, no need to create an account to access.

internet archive resource.Internet Archive Item. Need to create a free Internet Archive account to access items fully.

NYTimes logo.Items located on the NYTimes site, access with free CUNY account.

Wall Street Journal logo (wsj initials).Items located on Wall Street Journal site, access with free CUNY account.

Need assistance with off-campus access? Go to the library's Library Remote Access page for assistance and instructions.

The Brooklyn College Library's electronic resources (e.g. journals, ebooks, databases, etc.) are available to registered students, faculty, and staff when off-campus, including while abroad.


  • To authenticate for remote access to Library databases you will be prompted to use your CUNYfirst Username and Password to log in (same credentials for logging into Blackboard). You may see a redirection screen to the new login screen.
  • Using Firefox as your browser is recommended.
  • For further assistance go to the library's Ask a Librarian or read more on Library Remote Access.

image of page redirecting to login


All CUNY members have free access to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • Use email to sign up.
  • Faculty & staff renew every year.
  • Students have access until graduation.
    • renewal requires working address.  

NY Times: Anyone who initiates an account will have an active subscription for one year from the date she/he creates the account. If you already have an annual subscription to the NYTimes, you can cancel it and will receive a refund. However, if you only have a monthly subscription, the New York Times will not issue a refund for that month.

Newspaper Icons

NYTimes logo.Items located on the NYTimes site, access with free CUNY account.

Wall Street Journal logo (wsj initials).Items located on Wall Street Journal site, access with free CUNY account.

Course Textbook and Readings

This course is a zero cost/open educational resources course.  That means there is no textbook students need to purchase. All materials are available freely to students online on the HIST 3320 The History of Childhood OER site (what you are on right now) and Blackboard blackboard logo..

Other useful links and academic journals to explore:

Course Description

Childhood forms the core of human experience. Childhood is “a unique key to the larger human experience, from historical past to global present” (Stearns, Childhood in World History, 14). Yet, history continues to remain concerned with the big actors such as kings, queens, rulers, statesmen, revolutionaries, and leaders while children and childhood are naturalized and often fall through the cracks. Instead of assuming childhood as natural, this course brings to the fore childhood and children as important subjects of historical investigation. It will explore childhood as a dynamic and a historically constructed category that evolved differently in different contexts and changed over time. The meanings, experiences, and expectations of childhood varied according to class-caste, race, gender, religion, and other variables in different environments and time periods. Adopting a transnational and comparative approach, this course will engage in a reading of primary and secondary sources, use videos and films to investigate the role of children and childhood in different countries and cultures from antiquity to the present.

Course Objectives

  • To make students aware that childhood is a social and cultural construction that changed over time; that it both converges with and differs from the contemporary notions of childhood.
  • To make students understand that childhood is not universal: it is diverse and complex depending on the contexts and determined by class, caste, race, gender, religion, geography, time period, and politics, among other factors.
  • To familiarize students with the historiographical debates surrounding the history of childhood.
  • To read and analyze different kinds of primary sources (written documents; art forms; maps; music; film, space) and secondary literature to make connections between what is presented as “facts” and their interpretations. 
  • To enhance critical thinking, reading, and writing skills through reading and writing assignments.

Outcomes Anticipated from the Course

  • Reveal an understanding that childhood is not a monolithic and unchanging category; that it is a historically constructed notion and an important subject of scholarly investigation. 
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major trends in the history of childhood.
  • Acquire adequate knowledge about why the history of childhood is crucial for an understanding of childhood and the development of world history.
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate and discuss primary and secondary sources for articulating an argument and draw a meaningful conclusion. 
  • Exhibit leadership role in the classroom by choosing to present on a topic identified from the syllabus, formulate discussion questions, and respond to questions from the audience.