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Lyceum speaker to explore children’s popular culture

  • Rebecca Hains will make the case that children’s popular culture deserves our attention in “Why Children’s Popular Culture Matters: The Politics of Children’s Toys and Media” as the Monadnock Summer Lyceum’s speaker on Sunday. Courtesy photo

Published: 7/30/2020 3:57:11 PM

Is children’s popular culture mere child’s play, unworthy of critical thought or questioning? Such a view may lead adults to miss problematic patterns in children’s culture such as gender role stereotypes and racial bias. In her Monadnock Summer Lyceum presentation on Aug. 2 at 11 a.m., Rebecca Hains makes the case that children’s popular culture deserves our attention in “Why Children’s Popular Culture Matters: The Politics of Children’s Toys and Media.”

Backed by industries worth billions, children’s popular culture is not just a source of corporate profit. It is also an inescapable socializing force for children, teaching them often-problematic lessons about the world and their place in it. For example, children’s products are actually more gendered now than they were years ago, reflecting a cultural backlash against decades of feminist progress. According to Hains, raising children with values and perspectives that differ from those promoted by the toy and media industries is a significant challenge, requiring our critical engagement.

Professor of Media and Communication at Salem State University, Hains holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication and a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Temple University, as well as degrees from Boston University and Emmanuel College. Her published books include “Cultural Studies of LEGO: More Than Just Bricks,” “The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years” and “Growing Up With Girl Power: Girlhood On Screen and in Everyday Life.”

Hains has written about children’s culture for publications including The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe Magazine, and The Washington Post. She is frequently interviewed as an expert source on children’s culture by a wide range of national and international outlets, such as NPR’s “On Point” and “Marketplace,” BBC News, CBC’s “The Current,” The New York Times, Slate, “The Meredith Vieira Show” and for documentary films. Committed to consciousness-raising and collective action, she is currently working on a piece about being a female public intellectual in the age of social media.

Rona Zlokower, this Sunday’s moderator, co-founded Media Power Youth (MPY) in 2001 to address the increasing influence of media on children’s health and behaviors. Through her leadership, MPY developed a continuum of media literacy programs from early childhood through young adulthood. In 2016, MPY received the Nonprofit Impact Award from the NH Center for Nonprofits for its leadership. She retired from MPY in 2018 and continues to help as a consultant.

At 10:45 a.m., music will be provided by Eric Stumacher.

You may listen to rebroadcasts on the Lyceum website,, on WSMN 1590AM at 11 a.m. the following Sunday or WUML 91.5FM at 11 a.m. the following Wednesday.

Listen and watch the 2020 Monadnock Summer Lyceum as it streams live experiences this summer in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. All of the traditional Lyceum features will still be present except for the reception and book signing which will be back next year.


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