Babysitter: An American History

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9780814727591: Babysitter: An American History
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On Friday nights many parents want to have a little fun together—without the kids. But “getting a sitter”—especially a dependable one—rarely seems trouble-free. Will the kids be safe with “that girl”? It’s a question that discomfited parents have been asking ever since the emergence of the modern American teenage girl nearly a century ago. In Babysitter, Miriam Forman-Brunell brings critical attention to the ubiquitous, yet long-overlooked babysitter in the popular imagination and American history.

Informed by her research on the history of teenage girls’ culture, Forman-Brunell analyzes the babysitter, who has embodied adults’ fundamental apprehensions about girls’ pursuit of autonomy and empowerment. In fact, the grievances go both ways, as girls have been distressed by unsatisfactory working conditions. In her quest to gain a fuller picture of this largely unexamined cultural phenomenon, Forman-Brunell analyzes a wealth of diverse sources, such as The Baby-sitter’s Club book series, horror movies like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, urban legends, magazines, newspapers, television shows, pornography, and more.

Forman-Brunell shows that beyond the mundane, understandable apprehensions stirred by hiring a caretaker to “mind the children” in one’s own home, babysitters became lightning rods for society’s larger fears about gender and generational change. In the end, experts’ efforts to tame teenage girls with training courses, handbooks, and other texts failed to prevent generations from turning their backs on babysitting.

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About the Author:

Miriam Forman-Brunell is Professor of History at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She is the author of Made to Play House and general editor of ABC-CLIO’s Girlhood in America. She is also co-director of Children and Youth in History.

Review:

“From horror movies and pornography to the squeaky-clean cast of the Baby-sitter’s Club books, our cultural views of babysitters reveal more about our societal hang-ups than they do about the neighborhood teenagers who watch our children.”
-CalgaryHerald.com



“Is there a parent who hasn’t fretted about getting a baby sitter for the night? Is there a baby sitter who hasn’t felt put upon, underpaid, distrusted? For more than eight decades, baby-sitting has been part of our social and cultural history. Now, Forman-Brunell has analyzed its origins, evolution and inner workings.”
-Kansas City Star



Babysitter is an exemplary work of cultural history, using widely disparate sources to correct popular but misguided myths about teens’ labor history, girls’ cultural practices, and “the family” as an ideological construct. Written concisely and accessibly with ample illustrations, Babysitter is ideal for undergraduates and professional scholars alike.”-Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

"In this first-ever history of babysitting, Miriam Forman-Brunell has written an enjoyable account of class employees who, she argues, does an extraordinary amount of cultural work in addition to its assigned childcare chores." -Susan A. Miller,Enterprise and Society

“A gem of a book. In its ingenious use of sources, its interpretive reach, its marvelous prose style, its wisdom and wit, Babysitter is a model of cultural history. It is also the best work I have read in years on twentieth-century gender politics, youth culture, sexuality, and family history. I cannot recommend it highly enough to scholars, students, and the general public.”

-David Nasaw,author of Children of the City: At Work and at Play

“As historian Forman-Brunell’s research reveals, the archetype of the bad baby sitter has more to do with adults’ fears about the changing nature of girlhood today . . . than it does with the reality of girls caring for younger kids for pay.”
-Salon.com



“Forman-Brunell does a service by documenting one of the few remaining common denominators of American life—though this one, too, is disappearing.”
-Wall Street Journal



“For more than eight decades, baby-sitting has been part of our social and cultural history. Now, Miriam Forman-Brunell, history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has analyzed its origins, evolution, and inner workings.”
-KansasCity.com



Babysitter: An American History is richly researched, investigative, provocative, and a most unique journey through the past century.”

-Estes Park News



“From horror movies and pornography to the squeaky-clean cast of the Baby-sitter’s Club books, our cultural views of babysitters reveal more about our societal hang-ups than they do about the neighborhood teenagers who watch our children.”
-National Post

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. On Friday nights many parents want to have a little fun together-without the kids. But "getting a sitter"-especially a dependable one-rarely seems trouble-free. Will the kids be safe with "that girl"? It's a question that discomfited parents have been asking ever since the emergence of the modern American teenage girl nearly a century ago. In Babysitter, Miriam Forman-Brunell brings critical attention to the ubiquitous, yet long-overlooked babysitter in the popular imagination and American history.Informed by her research on the history of teenage girls' culture, Forman-Brunell analyzes the babysitter, who has embodied adults' fundamental apprehensions about girls' pursuit of autonomy and empowerment. In fact, the grievances go both ways, as girls have been distressed by unsatisfactory working conditions. In her quest to gain a fuller picture of this largely unexamined cultural phenomenon, Forman-Brunell analyzes a wealth of diverse sources, such as The Baby-sitter's Club book series, horror movies like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, urban legends, magazines, newspapers, television shows, pornography, and more.Forman-Brunell shows that beyond the mundane, understandable apprehensions stirred by hiring a caretaker to "mind the children" in one's own home, babysitters became lightning rods for society's larger fears about gender and generational change. In the end, experts' efforts to tame teenage girls with training courses, handbooks, and other texts failed to prevent generations from turning their backs on babysitting. Seller Inventory # CBL9780814727591

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. On Friday nights many parents want to have a little fun together-without the kids. But "getting a sitter"-especially a dependable one-rarely seems trouble-free. Will the kids be safe with "that girl"? It's a question that discomfited parents have been asking ever since the emergence of the modern American teenage girl nearly a century ago. In Babysitter, Miriam Forman-Brunell brings critical attention to the ubiquitous, yet long-overlooked babysitter in the popular imagination and American history.Informed by her research on the history of teenage girls' culture, Forman-Brunell analyzes the babysitter, who has embodied adults' fundamental apprehensions about girls' pursuit of autonomy and empowerment. In fact, the grievances go both ways, as girls have been distressed by unsatisfactory working conditions. In her quest to gain a fuller picture of this largely unexamined cultural phenomenon, Forman-Brunell analyzes a wealth of diverse sources, such as The Baby-sitter's Club book series, horror movies like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, urban legends, magazines, newspapers, television shows, pornography, and more.Forman-Brunell shows that beyond the mundane, understandable apprehensions stirred by hiring a caretaker to "mind the children" in one's own home, babysitters became lightning rods for society's larger fears about gender and generational change. In the end, experts' efforts to tame teenage girls with training courses, handbooks, and other texts failed to prevent generations from turning their backs on babysitting. Seller Inventory # CBL9780814727591

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