Modernity refers to a historical period characterized by major cultural transformations in Europe, beginning in the 15th century and reaching its pinnacle in the mid-20th century. During this period, there were important shifts in economic and political organization centered around the gradual displacement of feudal monarchy by liberal democracy and capitalism. Hallmarks of this shift to modernity included the privileging of reason, critical philosophical inquiry, a scientific understanding of the natural world, and a spirit of aesthetic innovation. Together, these ideals informed the formation of a secular, humanist, and materialist culture that increasingly asserted the authority of reason and technical progress in contradistinction to static premodern cosmologies governed by myth, superstition, ritual, and religion.

Ideas of children and childhood also shifted dramatically. The figure of ...

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