This review of Christiane Maria Binder’s From Innocence to Experience: (Re-) Constructions of Childhood in Victorian Women’s Autobiography (2014) singles out two complementary approaches to representation of childhood in Victorian women autobiographies, which were undertaken by the author. From the one hand, autobiographical texts of fifteen women are read through their interaction with other cultural discourses of the epoch (social, gender, religious, family, medical, educational, etc.) in tune with recent cultural studies, new historicism, and gender studies. From the other hand, the material is viewed as a specific form of female autobiography in every particular case, revealing its own configuration of events, thematics and narrative forms in tune with literary studies of genre and narration in autobiographies. The formation of female identity and reflexion about it is seen as a result of material conditions (finances, health care, food and eating habits), disciplinary practices (education, religious duties, prescribed reading), and psychological fixations (interest to hidden life of a child and unconsciousness, representation of traumatic experience, aesthetisation of life accounts).
Keywords: conceptions of childhood, girlhood, female autobiographies, Victorian period, cultural studies.