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ROUSSEAU'S IMAGINARY FRIEND: CHILDHOOD, PLAY, AND SUSPICION OF THE IMAGINATION IN EMILE

Authors


AMY B. SHUFFELTON is Assistant Professor of Education at Loyola University Chicago, 820 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail <amyshuffelton@gmail.com>. Her primary areas of scholarship are the political and moral dimensions of childhood and child raising.

Abstract

In this essay Amy Shuffelton considers Jean-Jacques Rousseau's suspicion of imagination, which is, paradoxically, offered in the context of an imaginative construction of a child's upbringing. First, Shuffelton articulates Rousseau's reasons for opposing children's development of imagination and their engagement in the sort of imaginative play that is nowadays considered a hallmark of early and middle childhood. Second, she weighs the merits of Rousseau's opposition, which runs against the consensus of contemporary social science research on childhood imaginative play. Ultimately, Shuffelton argues that Rousseau's work offers an important cautionary note to enthusiasts of children's imaginative play, due to the potentially disruptive influence of consumer capitalism, though she also notes that imagination may play a more redemptive role than Rousseau granted it.

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