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Fears of the Dark: Children, Young People and the Cinema in World War One

Tebbutt, Melanie (2020) Fears of the Dark: Children, Young People and the Cinema in World War One. In: Histories, Memories and Representations of Being Young in the First World War. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-030-49939-6

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Abstract

Darkness was central to the discourse which surrounded children and the cinema during the First World War when some adults viewed the cinema positively, as a safe refuge from war-darkened winter streets, but others blamed the cinema’s darkness for concealing sexual immorality and enhancing children’s susceptibility to demoralising film content. This chapter examines how the equivocal nature of wartime darkness intensified many familiar adult fears and anxieties yet also sanctioned children’s autonomy and sense of community. It argues that research emphases on children’s agency should pay greater attention to power dynamics between children and young people and to the peer and age distinctions which during wartime reinforced yet also fractured the subversive freedoms experienced in the cinema’s darkened spaces.

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