1968 and the boundaries of childhood

October 12, 2017 - October 14, 2017

Auditorium de la Bibliothèque Municipale
2 bis avenue André Malraux
37000 Tours


The global upheaval caused by the protest movements around 1968 revolutionised social structures, overturned cultural conventions, challenged political ideologies, and catalysed civil rights activism by women, gay people and ethnic minorities. Childhood historians stress the importance of this period in altering the authority structures that shaped children’s lives.

However, many of the fields within childhood studies driving these changes – children’s media and culture, children’s heritage and art education – remain pushed to the margins within historical master narratives of 1968. These disciplines have had little chance to reflect on their own development, to draw the connections stemming from their shared heritage in 1968, or to trace the historical legacies that have shaped the assumptions underpinning them.

This project analyses 1968 as a watershed moment in children’s culture and its related disciplines, following Marwick’s (1998) now canonical definition of 1968 as the crystallisation of the cultural revolution of the ‘long sixties’ (c.1958-c.1974). It is a new collaboration between researchers and practitioners from Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK. You can find out more about our work on our project website: https://children68.hypotheses.org/

The project’s first conference focuses on experimental ideas of children and culture for children, children's rights, participation and access to culture in the '68 years. The aim is to generate dialogue between specialists from cognate fields within childhood studies (including children's history and media, children's culture, heritage and art education), historians of '68, and contemporary practitioners involved in working with children and culture (publishers, artists, children's librarians etc).

It will be held at the University of Tours, France, Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th October 2017. This will coincide with an exhibition of non-sexist children’s books and media from the 1970s from Europe and the US, organised in collaboration with the artists Kim Dhillon and Andrea Francke of Invisible Spaces of Parenthood.

By thinking about children’s culture as a site for artistic and intellectual experimentation, at the centre of ideological activity across disciplinary boundaries and national borders, we aim to open up new ways of understanding the ‘68 liberation movements and their legacies. With the fiftieth anniversary of ‘68 approaching, it is important that the children’s perspective is finally brought to the fore of scholarly debate and public commemorations.


  • Dr Sophie Heywood, LE STUDIUM / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow
    FROM : Department of Modern Languages and European Studies, University of Reading -  UK
    IN RESIDENCE AT: InTRu (Equipe d’Accueil 6301), Université François-Rabelais de Tours - FR
  • Dr Cécile Boulaire
    InTRu (Equipe d’Accueil 6301), Université François-Rabelais de Tours - FR


1968 and the boundaries of childhood


  • Pr Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, University of Tübingen - DE
  • Pr Jonathan Bignell, University of Reading - UK
  • Pr Mathew Thomson, University of Warwick - UK
  • Pr  Kim  Reynolds, University of Newcastle - UK
  • Pr David Buckingham, Emeritus Professor, Loughborough University and Visiting Professor, Sussex University - UK
  • Dr Anna Antoniazzi, University of Genoa - IT
  • Dr Birgitte Beck Pristed, University of Arhus - DN
  • Loïc Boyer, artist - FR
  • Dr Nelly Chabrol, University of Clermont-Ferrand - FR
  • Dr Marie Cronqvist, University of Lund - SW
  • Viviane Ezratty, Bibliothèque de l’Heure Joyeuse - FR
  • Andrea Francke, Invisible Spaces of Parenthood - UK
  • Dr Daniel Gordon, Edge Hill University - UK
  • Dr Lucy Pearson, University of Newcastle - UK
  • Dr Helle Jensen, University of Arhus - DN
  • Alex Thorp, the Serpentine Gallery, London - UK
  • Dr Olle Widhe, University of Gothenburg - SW
  • Dr Anita Wincencjusz, Akademy Szuk Piekynch Wroclaw - PL


1968 ; The ‘long sixties’ ; Childhood studies ; Art education ; Children’s books ; Children’s media ; History of childhood ; Censorship ; Counter-culture ; Protest movements ; Feminism ; Civil rights

Conference PROGRAM

Thursday 12th October 2017

  • 14h00    Welcome coffee and registration
  • 14h45    The Children’s ‘68: Introduction to the project 

Theme 1: Children’s rights and children’s culture

  • 15h15 - 17h15
    Dr Olle Widhe, University of Gothenburg - SE
    Radical children’s literature and children’s rights in Sweden around ’68
    Dr Lucy Pearson, Newcastle University - UK
    The Right to Read: Children’s Rights and Children’s Publishing in Britain
    Pr Mathew Thomson, University of Warwick - UK
    Rights, Limits and the Landscape of the Child in ‘70s Britain
    Discussant: Helle Strandgaard Jensen
  • 18h30    Public lecture (in French)
    Dr Sophie Heywood & Dr Cécile Boulaire : Le ’68 des enfants
  • 20h00    Wine & cheese at La Cave se rebiffe

Friday 13th October 2017

  • 08h00    Welcome coffee
  • 08h30    CMER (Cellule Mutualisée Europe Recherche)
    Marine Alalinarde, Presentation of funding opportunities in the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Programme

Theme 2: New ideas of the family and gender

  • 09h00 - 10h45
    Nelly Chabrol-Gagne, University of Clermont-Ferrand - FR
    A militant aesthetic: a reading of Martine petite maman (1968), Histoire de Julie qui avait une ombre de garçon (1976), Salut poupée (1978), Mes années 70 (2008)
    Tour of exhibition and talk by artist Andrea Francke of ‘Invisible Spaces of Parenthood’, London - UK
  • 10h45    Coffee-break

Theme 3: Avant-gardes and aesthetic experimentation

  • 11h00 - 12h15
    Dr Anna Antoniazzi, University of Genoa - IT
    Cultural revolution in Italian children’s literature
    Dr Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna, Akademia Sztuk Pieknych im. Eugeniusza Gepperta, Wroclaw - PL
    Children’s book design and illustration in Poland, c. 1968
    Discussant: Cécile Boulaire
  • 12h15    Lunch at Les Lionceaux

Theme 4: Utopias and transforming society

  • 14h00 - 15h30
    Loïc Boyer, Graphic designer and editor of Cligne Cligne magazine and series (Didier jeunesse), Orléans - FR
    Designing spaces for the child in France by the early ’70s: what CRÉE means
    Pr Jonathan Bignell, University of Reading - UK
    Children of the World on British television: the 1968 of 1971
    Discussant: Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer
  • 15h30    Coffee-break

Theme 5: Counter-culture, hippyism and anti-authoritarianism

  • 15h45 - 18h15
    Pr Kim Reynolds, Newcastle University - UK
    One, two, three what are we fighting for? The long view of antiwar writing for children
    Pr Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, University of Tübingen - DE
    Political indoctrination and anti-authoritarian ideas: leftist picturebooks in Germany after 1968
    Pr David Buckingham, Loughborough University/Kings College London - UK
    Children of the revolution? The British hippie counter-culture and the idea of childhood
    Dr Sophie Heywood, University of Reading, UK/ University of Tours - FR
    Explosive tales for children: Harlin Quist Books and the May ’68 of French children’s picturebooks
    Discussant: Lucy Pearson
  • 20h00    Social Dinner at Le Barju

Saturday 14th October 2017

  • 08h30    Welcome coffee

Theme 6: Defining ‘radical’ children’s culture c. 1968

  • 09h00 - 11h00    
    Dr Helle Strandgaard Jensen, University of Århus - DK
    Nordic children’s television around 1968 – progressive or radical?
    Dr Cécile Boulaire, University of Tours - FR
    Okapi, a ‘fantastinouï’ magazine for teenagers in the spirit of ‘68
    Dr Birgitte Beck Pristed, University of Århus - DK
    Revolution Elsewhere: Soviet Conformist and Non-Conformist Children’s Books of the 1960s and 1970s
    Discussant: Jonathan Bignell
  • 11h15    Coffee-break

Round Table: Breaking boundaries?

  • 11h30 - 12h45 
    Alex Thorp, Education curator, Serpentine Gallery London - UK
    Viviane Ezratty, Conservatrice générale et directrice de la médiathèque Françoise Sagan à Paris - FR
    Pr Isabelle Nières-Chevrel, University of Rennes II - FR


  • 12h45 - 13h00
    Dr Daniel Gordon, Edge Hill University - UK
    observations from a historian of ’68
    Dr Sophie Heywood: closing remarks



Private institutions200 EUR
Public institutions120 EUR
Students & PhD Scholars60 EUR
Social dinner60 EUR

Partners of the event