Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood
By (author) Gary S. Cross
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Kids' Stuff by Gary S. Cross
Book DescriptionTo sort out who's who and what's what in the world of Barbies and Ninja Turtles, Tinkertoys and teddy bears, is to begin to see what has become of childhood in America. It is this changing world, and what it unveils about Americans values, that Gary Cross explores in this book, a look into the meaning of American toys through this century. Early in the 1900s toys reflected parents ideas about children and their futures. Erector sets introduced boys to a realm of business and technology, while baby dolls anticipated motherhood and building blocks honed the fine motor skills of the youngest children. The book chronicles the transformation that occurred as the interests and intentions of parents, children, and the toy industry gradually diverged starting in the 1930s when toymakers, inspired by popular favorites like Shirley Temple and Buck Rogers, began to appeal directly to the young. TV advertising, blockbuster films like "Star Wars", and Saturday morning cartoons exploited their youthful audience. Meanwhile, social and economic forces were transforming the nature of play in American society. Cross offers an account of a culture in which erector sets and baby dolls are no longer alone in preparing children for the future, and in which the toys that now crowd the racks are as perplexing for parents as they are beguiling for little boys and girls. Whether we want our children to be high achievers in a competitive world or playful and free from the worries of adult life, the toy store confronts us with many choices. What does the endless array of action figures and fashion dolls mean? Are children or parents the dupes of the film, television, and toy industries, with their latest fads and fantasies? What does this say about our time, and what does it bode for our future? Tapping a vein of cultural history, the book exposes the serious business behind a century of playthings.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780674503359
(225mm x 143mm x 17mm)
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 8-Oct-1999
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Gary S. Cross
Packaged Pleasures, Hardback (October 2014)
From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience. This book sheds new light on the origins of modern consumer culture and how technologies have transformed human sensory experience.
Playful Crowd, Hardback (September 2005)
Explores playful crowds and the pursuit of pleasure in the twentieth century to offer a transatlantic perspective on changing ideas about leisure, class, and mass culture. This book examines the resorts' different fates as Coney Island has become a shadow of its former self while Blackpool continues to lure visitors and offer attractions.
Cute and the Cool, Hardback (March 2004)» View all books by Gary S. Cross
The cute child -- spunky, yet dependent, naughty but nice -- is largely a 20th-century invention. In this book, Gary Cross examines how that look emerged in American popular culture and how the cute turned into the cool, seemingly its opposite, in stories and games.
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Author Biography - Gary S. Cross
Gary Cross is Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University.
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