How do children learn to feel? Children's Literature and the History of the Socialization of Emotions 1870 -1970

Learning How to Feel (Ute Frevert et al.) | Buchcover

Group project of the Research Center for the History of Emotions

Our starting point was the assumption that through children’s literature young readers learn a lot about feelings among other things. Even unaware, they are confronted with questions such as:

  • What are feelings?
  • What do we call them?
  • How can I recognize my own and other people’s feelings?
  • Which feelings should I have in certain situations and which not?
  • Which feelings are good, which bad?
  • How can I show my feelings?
  • How should I deal with myself and my feelings?

We explored how feelings have been negotiated as part of stories for the past 150 years and to which repertoires of possible and permissible as well as objectionable and undesirable feelings children and adolescents have been introduced.

Our sources were children’s books as well as advice literature from Germany, Great Britain, the United States, Russia, and India. The research results are published in the multiauthored monograph "Learning How To Feel" (Oxford University Press, 2014).