Age in America

History 103D.002

Fall 2018
3104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 2-4
Class Number: 

This course uses age as a category of analysis through which to examine United States history from the colonial period through the twentieth-first century. It challenges students to consider age, not as a series of immutable milestones, but as a historically constructed social, cultural, and legal signifier whose meaning has shifted over time. Some of the significant questions this course will address are: How and why have Americans celebrated specific chronological ages? How has the American legal system influenced the setting of certain age milestones? And how do varying values and perspectives influence the perception of childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and the elderly stage? Students will also consider how age has been used to limit rights, opportunities, and citizenship, and will contemplate how issues of race, gender, and class might complicate how one experiences aging in America. Among others, topics will include: life stages, age of consent laws, suffrage, military service, marriage, age grading, labor laws, and retirement.

Jennifer Robin Terry is a social and cultural historian of United States history. Her research focuses primarily on the intersection of childhood, labor, law, and culture in the twentieth-century. She is currently working on two projects. One examines the ways that culture has influenced agricultural child labor law and practice. The other considers child actors as a class of laborers and interrogates the tension between the rights of children and that of their parents.