Public Historian logoThe Public Historian is publishing a special issue on childhood, consumption, and gender, inspired in part by the continuing popularity of the American Girl dolls and books. We seek papers that address how children encounter public history through commercial representations of the past in various forms of children’s popular culture and children’s play. These may include dolls, children’s literature (fiction and nonfiction), children’s television programs, such as Liberty’s Kids, strategy computer games (Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Age of Empires, etc), or board games.

Papers will address such questions as who produces those representations, and how can public historians engage seriously with them? How do age, gender, class, and race factor into product creation and consumption? How does children’s imaginative play shape children’s understanding of the past, their political consciousness, and identity as citizens? How effectively does children’s popular culture grapple with difficult subjects such as slavery and racism? How have adult investments in particular retellings of the past shaped children’s play and how in turn has children’s play shaped adult understandings of the past? Where lie the fractures between sound scholarly interpretations and commercially successful historical commodities?

The special issue, guest edited by Lisa Jacobson of UC Santa Barbara, will appear in 2020. We invite submissions of abstracts of 250 words by May 15, 2019. Please email abstracts to Sarah Case, managing editor,

CFP – Special Issue of The Public Historian: Childhood, Consumerism, and Gender in Public History