From Superman to Social Realism

Children's media and Scandinavian childhood

Helle Strandgaard Jensen | Aarhus University
ISBN 9789027201607 | EUR 90.00 | USD 135.00
ISBN 9789027265746 | EUR 90.00 | USD 135.00
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Can children’s media be a source of education and empowerment? Or is the commercial media market a threat to their sense of social and democratic values? Such questions about the appropriateness of children’s media consumption have recurred in public debates throughout the twentieth century. From Superman to Social Realism provides an exciting new approach to the study of children’s media and childhood history, drawing on theories of cross-media consumption and transnational history. Based on extensive Scandinavian source material, it explores public debates about children’s media between 1945 and 1985. Readers are taken on a fascinating journey through debates about superheroes in the 1950s, politicization of children’s media in the 1960s, and about television and social realism in the 1980s. Arguments are firmly contextualized in Scandinavian childhood and welfare state history, an approach that demonstrates why professional and political groups have perceived children’s media as the key to the enculturation of future generations.

Received honourable mention at Nordic History Book Prize (Den nordiske historiebogpris 2017)

Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“An unbiased, richly documented, and fresh analysis of how changing agents and culture shaped Scandinavian understanding of childhood and media since World War II. Going beyond scholarly disdain for moral panics and the usual Anglo-American focus and naturalist analysis, this book imaginatively compares distinct historical debates about what the child should be and experience in a media drenched age. This book will reach a global audience.”
“Changing historical understandings of children’s media use - and claimed abuse – is the topic of this path breaking richly contextualized analysis. New light is thrown on the continuous controversies over children’s media practices as well as at the history of children and childhood in the Scandinavian countries. It is meticulously researched and asks pertinent, theoretical founded, questions and give nuanced but vigoroulsy argued answers. Helle Strandgaards Jensen's study is highly relevant to anyone with an interest in the current and universal media debates, within and far outside the borders of the Scandinavian countries.”
“[...] Jensen’s book provides an interesting, thought-provoking, and original contribution to the history of childhood, the history of (children’s) media, and the history of the Scandinavian welfare state.”
“Jensen’s book deserves to be read by historians of media and childhood and by those interested in postwar cultural history, in general, as it analyses postwar Scandinavian media cultures from an original age perspective. From an international viewpoint, this attractively written study offers to historians of media and youth history in Europe and beyond a helpful comparative reference.”
Cited by

Cited by 7 other publications

Arzuk, Deniz
2019. Milliyet Çocuk and the Making of Children's Literary Culture in Turkey in the 1970s. International Research in Children's Literature 12:1  pp. 62 ff. DOI logo
Hedemark, Åse & Ellen Jonsson
2021. Läsning för framtidens samhällsmedborgare: en studie av dåtidens och nutidens svenska kulturpolitiska debatter om barns läsning. Nordisk kulturpolitisk tidsskrift 24:2  pp. 120 ff. DOI logo
Jensen, Helle S & Katalin Lustyik
2017. Negotiating ‘non-profit’: the survival strategies of the Sesame Workshop. Media International Australia 163:1  pp. 97 ff. DOI logo
Redvall, Eva Novrup
2021. Cross-media, co-creative and current: New strategies for educating talent for Danish children’s film and television in the 2020s. Film Education Journal 4:2 DOI logo
Thorfinnsdottir, Dia & Helle Strandgaard Jensen
2017. Laugh away, he is gay! Heteronormativity and children’s television in Denmark. Journal of Children and Media 11:4  pp. 399 ff. DOI logo
Widhe, Olle
2019. Modes of environmental imagination. Barnelitterært forskningstidsskrift 10:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Wistisen, Lydia
2023. Barn-tv i Skräpocen. Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap 53:1 DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 13 may 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Literature & Literary Studies

Theoretical literature & literary studies

Main BIC Subject

DSY: Children's literature studies: general

Main BISAC Subject

LIT009000: LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's & Young Adult Literature
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2016059525 | Marc record