A lively exploration into America’s preoccupation with childhood innocence and its corruption
In The Drinking Curriculum, Elizabeth Marshall brings the taboo topic of alcohol and childhood into the limelight. Marshall coins the term “the drinking curriculum” to describe how a paradoxical set of cultural lessons about childhood are fueled by adult anxieties and preoccupations. By analyzing popular and widely accessible texts in visual culture – temperance tracts, cartoons, film, advertisements and public service announcements – Marshall demonstrates how youth are targets of mixed messages about intoxication. Those messages range from the overtly violent to the humorous, the moralistic to the profane. Offering a critical, and at times, irreverent analysis of dominant protectionist paradigms that sanctify childhood as implicitly innocent, The Drinking Curriculum centers the graphic narratives our culture uses to teach about alcohol, the roots of these pictorial tales in the nineteenth century, and the discursive hangover we nurse into the twenty-first.