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Politics and Education in the Very Long Eighteenth Century, 1660-1860

09 March 13

Saturday 9 March 2013, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Convenors: Professor Michele Cohen, Dr Mary Clare Martin, Dr Mark Burden

Keynote Speakers: Kathryn Gleadle, Lissa Paul

Despite a growing interest in the practices and principles of eighteenth-century education, and a continuing critical preoccupation with eighteenth-century political events and philosophies, there have been few attempts to explore the connections between them. Yet these connections were vital. Political events and ideas influenced teaching in schools, universities, the home, and the workplace. The education of eighteenth-century political figures affected their future beliefs and actions. The political strategies of the European powers helped to determine educational provision in America, India, Africa, and East Asia.

Changing legal frameworks altered the education of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and dissenters across Europe. Young women, as well as young men, used their education to become familiar with political rhetoric. Eighteenth-century ethics teaching was closely connected to early modern politics and natural law theory. Children’s literature contained explicit, implicit and concealed political messages, while educational texts were subject to the politics of production and exchange.

Call for Papers:

This one-day interdisciplinary conference will examine the ways in which education influenced politics, and the means by which politics affected educational provision in the long eighteenth century. To this end, we shall employ a broad definition of the term ‘education’, to include (for example) apprenticeships, family tutors, and educational conversation. Our definition of ‘politics’ will extend to political and moral thought, as well as political events, people, and texts. We encourage submissions for 20-minute papers from all branches of political, literary, social, and intellectual history. The conference follows our successful one-day workshop on ‘Education in the Very Long Eighteenth Century’ (2010) and marks the fifth anniversary of the ‘Education in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar Series’ at the Institute of Historical Research, London. Possible subjects for panel papers might include:

  • parliamentary debates on education
  • the education of political figures
  • the political opinions of university tutors across Europe
  • political dimensions of the Grand Tour
  • the politics of charity schools
  • schools, academies and the law
  • political poetry by or for young people
  • education and class politics
  • political messages in children’s literature
  • the politics of educational publishing
  • education and gender politics
  • prosecutions of schoolmasters and tutors
  • the politics of science
  • the education of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and dissenters
  • the politics of language learning
  • the study of politics and natural law
  • the political opinions of young people
  • schoolboy rebellions
  • party political views on education
  • educating the labour force
  • political education in the home
  • the funding and cost of education

Submitting a Proposal:

Proposals of 300-500 words should be sent to the three workshop convenors, Professor Michele Cohen (cohenm@richmond.ac.uk), Dr Mary Clare Martin (m.c.h.martin@greenwich.co.uk) and Dr Mark Burden (m_k_burden@yahoo.co.uk), by 15 November 2012. We are happy to consider interdisciplinary studies, proposals from postgraduate students, and progress reports from new projects. Further information about the ‘Education in the Long Eighteenth Century’ seminar series may be found on the ELEC blog: http://dissentingreader.wordpress.com/, and the Institute of Historical Research website: http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/252. Queries relating to the conference, or to the seminar series, may be emailed to Professor Cohen, Dr Martin, or Dr Burden at one of the above addresses.


We are grateful to the Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, School of Education, University of Greenwich, for sponsoring the conference.

Listen to event co-convenor Dr Mark Burden discussing his Religion and Society funded studentship on Dissenting Academies here and here and more about its findings here.

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