Why Frank Underwood Hates Children (

Why Flynn is the Real Hero of Breaking Bad (

“The Walking Dead’s” Scary, Necessary Lesson About American Childhood (


Suffering Childhood in Early America


“Duane demonstrates the myriad ways in which early Americans conceptualized their own place within the British system and their relationships with others, including American Indians and enslaved Africans, through the lens of childhood. She analyzes a very wide-ranging selection of texts and draws on cognitive theory to enhance our understanding of the evolving place of children and of childhood as a concept in early American experiences and aspirations.”—Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Silver Professor of History, New York University

“An easy rhetorical trick for soliciting sympathy or raising anxiety, the trope of the suffering child is so familiar we hardly notice its presence. Duane probes the uses of this familiar figure with astute, nuanced rigor. Her work makes clear the stakes of representing childhood as dependent and vulnerable, for actual children and their families, but even more for the process of national formation, and for the treatment of other ‘infantilized’ groups. Duane, convincingly shows us how the figure of the suffering child structures discussion of so many of the most pressing topics in early America, from witchcraft, Indian captivity, African slavery, and colonial status, to the very idea of republican citizenship. Her account of the suffering child thus proves profoundly illuminating about the nature of power and subjugation, and even more generally, about the kind of work that metaphors can do.”
—Karen Sánchez-Eppler, author of Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture

“A nuanced and sophisticated account of the early American cultural landscape and the ways children engaged with cultural anxieties and concerns. The project offers many useful insights into early American writing.”—Caroline Levander, author of Cradle of Liberty: Race, the Child, and National Belonging from Thomas Jefferson to W. E. B. Du Bois

“Duane’s work offers a valuable road map for scholars seeking routes out of the theoretical blind alleys that potentially stifle inquiry into the history of children.”—Journal of American History

“Through illuminating, close readings of both little-known and canonical literary texts as historical evidence, Suffering Childhood in Early America investigates the evolving relationship between the realities and representations of childhood from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. In this pioneering and perceptive study, Duane identifies the cultural labor performed by positive and negative representations of children in social and political arguments about witchcraft, infanticide, motherhood, the American Revolution, and slavery. Particularly compelling are her analyses of the ways authors of African descent reveal the effect childhood continues to have in adulthood.”—Vincent Carretta, author of Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man


“This important collection of essays seeks to define the emerging discipline of childhood studies, to explain what it has to contribute and how that understanding provides an analytic tool to help us approach many fields. These essays challenge the binary manner in which modern society divides adults from children and propose much more subtle approaches for reconsidering the spectrum of human capability. As they rightly argue, paying attention to children has the potential to make us reconsider many other categories of ability and our entire conception of dependency. It forces us to reframe our ability to understand the past as well as our present. Arguing persuasively that the enlightenment bifurcation dividing childhood from adulthood hides as much as it reveals, they suggest many approaches for overcoming it and make powerful arguments for why we must try.”
—Holly Brewer, Burke Professor of American History, University of Maryland

Strange Place Blues: The Unusual Education of a Generation of African American Leaders.

Edited Collections: 

When is a Child a Slave?: Enslaved Children Before and After Legal Emancipation (under consideration, Cambridge UP).

Co-edited with Kate Capshaw, Impossible Publics: African American Children’s Literature before 1900. 

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