American Modernism, Childhood, and the Inward Turn
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Henry James, Djuna Barnes, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Gertrude Stein each test, in different ways, the limits of innocence, shelter, and nostalgia represented in the discourses of childhood interiority circulating in the modern era. In this chapter, I introduce readers to three such discourses including the Biblical child set in the midst, the child in the house, and a nostalgia for childhood. To each of these, I argue that modernist literature sets out to create explicit counter discourses in which the child in the midst may not be able to save herself let alone anyone else; the child in the house is a white child; and nostalgia is an illness whose cure requires a remove, not a return to childhood.