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

March 9, 2013
Institute of Historical Research

Court Room, Senate House Library
United Kingdom


  • Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, University of Greenwich

Keynote speakers:

Kathryn Gleadle
University of Oxford
Lissa Paul
Brock University


Mark Burden
University of Oxford
Michele Cohen
Institute of Education and Richmond University
Mary Clare Martin
University of Greenwich

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A free one-day interdisciplinary conference to be held on Saturday 9 March 2013 in The Court Room, Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

Convenors: Michèle Cohen (, Mary Clare Martin (, Mark Burden (

Keynote Speakers:

Kathryn Gleadle, "The Juvenile Enlightenment? British Children and Radical Politics in the Late Eighteenth Century"

Lissa Paul, "Eliza Fenwick (1760-1840): Educator, Abolitionist - and Slaveholder"

Other Participants: Sophie Defrance, Emmanuelle Chaze, Robert Ivermee, Dominic Wright, Sam McLean, Louise Joy, Judy Bainbridge, Karen Williams

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.

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 are employing a broad definition of the term ‘education’, including educational correspondence, education and science, vocational education, education in the colonies, and educational literature. Our definition of ‘politics’ extends to political and moral thought, as well as to political events, people, and texts. The conference follows our successful one-day workshop on ‘Education in the Very Long Eighteenth Century’ (2011) and our recent roundtable on education at the BSECS annual conference (2013); it marks the fifth anniversary of the ‘Education in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar Series’ at the Institute of Historical Research, London (2008-13).

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