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Training, educating, instructing in France, in the British Isles and in America in the 17th and 18th centuries (Post-Graduate Study Days 2022 organized by the SEAA17-18, the Société d’étude du XVIIe siècle, and the Société Française d’Étude du XVIIIe siècle (SFEDS))

University of Western Brittany, Brest, France
Organization: Société d’Études Anglo-Américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles
Event: Post-Graduate Study Days 2022 organized by the SEAA17-18, the Société d’étude du XVIIe siècle, and the Société Française d’Étude du XVIIIe siècle (SFEDS)
Categories: French, Lingustics, Pedagogy, Women's Studies, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Long 18th Century, Science
Event Date: 2022-09-23 to 2022-09-24 Abstract Due: 2022-05-15

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Training, educating, instructing in France, in the British Isles and in America in the 17th and 18th centuries

Post-Graduate Study Days 2022 organized by the SEAA17-18, the Société d’étude du XVIIe siècle, and the Société Française d’Étude du XVIIIe siècle (SFEDS)
University of Western Brittany, Brest, France, 23-24 September 2022
Throughout the 17th century, education took up an increasingly central place in the British Isles and in the American colonies. The subject of many works by authors such as John Milton[1], John Evelyn[2], John Eachard[3] or John Aubrey[4], education also came to be seen as a political issue in America and as early as 1642 the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring children to be taught to read and write[5].
But the most emblematic work about education in the 17th century is beyond a doubt John Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693). In the dedicatory epistle introducing it, the celebrated English thinker advertises his manual as follows:

The well educating of their children is so much the duty and concern of parents, and the welfare and prosperity of the nation so much depends on it, that I would have every one lay it seriously to heart; and [...] set his helping hand to promote everywhere that way of training up youth, with regard to their several conditions, which is the easiest, shortest, and likeliest to produce virtuous, useful, and able men in their distinct callings ; tho’ that most to be taken care of is the gentleman’s calling. For if those of that rank are by their education once set right, they will quickly bring all the rest into order.[6]

The manual – a popular choice both in Britain and in France throughout the 18th century – is aimed at forming the parents-educators to the great principles of a benevolent, rational and structured education of their children, allowing the latter to cultivate virtue and knowledge, social skills and know-how. The whole point of education, from Locke’s perspective, consists in enabling the emergence and emancipation of the educated subject as a person, in its social, moral, physical, but above all, civil and civic dimensions, the person in the making being entrusted with a mission to ensure “the welfare and prosperity of the nation”. This short excerpt raises a few fundamental questions: though Locke’s education principles are at first comprehensive and inclusive, the education he favours is nonetheless aimed at boys and young men – at gentlemen in particular. What was the place of girls’ education in the society of the time? Were boys and girls educated the same way? What place did education have in the lower social and economic spheres of the population?
These 2022 Post-Graduate Study Days set out to explore the broad range of the pedagogical theories and educative practices that were developed throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in the British Isles and in America. The three suggested semantic lines – training, educating, instructing – should allow for a cross-referencing of approaches on how knowledge was passed on from one generation to the next, from a teacher to a pupil or from a parent to a child. Though distinguishable from one another, the three terms stem from a same basis which establishes the relation between the learner and the instructor, but also between the learner and the object of his or her apprenticeship.
To train, first of all, means “to shape”, “to make something or give something a specific shape” (translated from CNRTL). How is youth shaped? How is it begotten so as to allow it to take its rightful place in society? One may even venture to speak of a “moulding” or shaping process and evoke the malleability of the young minds one wishes to shape so as to make them adopt the prescribed behaviours. What was the place of socially sanctioned conduct in the training of young people at that time? What evolution have the conduct manuals seen throughout the two centuries that will be the focus of our symposium? 
“Plants are shaped by cultivation, and men by education. (...) This education comes to us from nature or from men or from things[7]”, says Rousseau in Emile. If training evokes the reproduction of a pattern, an operation or a system, educating suggests practice, study, development and personal fulfilment. The learner is at the core of the notion of education – a broad concept pertaining to all aspects of life, from practical or theoretical knowledge to proper behaviour and good manners. 
Lastly, to instruct means “to form the mind”, but also, more specifically, “to communicate a set of theoretical or practical knowledge” (CNRTL). This last term seems to relate more to the role of the teacher, the instructor and his or her method. But what about self-instruction and the means and resources provided to learners for self-training and independent learning?
Training, educating and instructing educators and students, masters and apprentices, parents and children: these issues became part of the agenda of numerous philosophers, educationalists, politicians, clergymen and men of letters throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, in Europe and North America. Why did the education and training of the youth, but also the training of educators, become such major issues at the time? How was knowledge handed down and spread and how was it acquired at a time that saw such significant changes?  What were the major innovations in terms of training, education and instruction between the 17th and 18th centuries? Can this be called a revolution and, if so, in what sense? 
A large range of areas are concerned with these questions: sociology, philosophy, literature, religions, politics, public life and the private sphere constitute as many “spaces” involved in the shaping of the youth. How and to what extent have Enlightenment thinkers contributed to the development of education in France, across the Channel, across the Atlantic – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, John Locke of course, but also William Godwin or Fénelon? What role did women scholars – Margaret Cavendish, Mary Astell, Mary Wollstonecraft – play in the struggle for women’s right to education? What impact did religion have on education during the 17th and 18th centuries? Finally, what can be said of the moral and edifying purpose of literature, and of the Horatian poetic ideal of “dulce et utile”, aimed at by novelists such as Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson or Henry Fielding? 

Contributions may address, but are not limited to, the following topics: 
- the place granted to the education of girls and/or boys in the 17th and 18th centuries; mixed-sex education; proto-feminist discourse and the promotion of female education
- pedagogical writing (secretaries, conduct books) and/or fictional writing (didactic novels, bildungsroman)
- professional training and apprenticeship
- theoretical discourse and scientific practice
- religious discourse; religious transmissions and secularisation
- instruction and propaganda
- cultural development during the 17th and 18th centuries; cultural exposure of children and young adults (theatre, music, literature, painting, circulating libraries)
- social spheres and access to knowledge, education and culture

Submissions (title and abstract of 300-500 words) in English or in French, along with a short biographical note (name, surname, email address, affiliation, PhD topic and research field) should be sent to the following address: jdjc.seaa1718@gmail.com by May 15th, 2022.
Acceptance notifications will be sent to participants by mid-June 2022.

The Post-Graduate Study Days will take place on September 23rd and 24th, 2022 at Victor Segalen Faculty, University of Western Brittany, Brest. 
Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes. 
The symposium will be followed by a publication in the SEAA17-18 Doctoral Students’ Research Blog, on the Hypotheses platform. Further details will be given later. 

Advisory Board: 
Camille Jaouen (PhD student, SEAA1718)
Adnana Sava (PhD student, SEAA1718)
Marie Cécile Schang (Senior Lecturer, SFEDS)
Pascale Thouvenin (Professor, Société d’Étude du XVIIe siècle)
Alain Kerhervé (Professor, SEAA1718)
Kimberley Page-Jones (Senior Lecturer, SERA)

[1] John Milton, Of Education (1644).
[2] John Evelyn, The Golden Book of St John Chrysostom, concerning the Education of Children. Translated out of the Greek by J.E. (London: Printed by D. M. for G. Bedel and T. Collins, 1659).
[3] John Eachard, The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion enquired into. In a letter to R. L. (London: Printed by E. Tyler and R. Holt for Nathaniel Brooke, 1672).
[4] J.E. Stephens, Aubrey on Education: A Hitherto Unpublished Manuscript by the Author of Brief Lives (London and New York: Routledge Library Editions, 2014).
[5] See Marcus W. Jernegan, « Compulsory Education in the American Colonies: I. New England », The School Review (Dec. 1918), Vol. 26, No. 10, pp. 735-736.
[6] John Locke, Some thoughts concerning education: and, Of the conduct of the understanding (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 1996), p. 8.
[7] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile: or On Education, tr. Allan Bloom (New York : Basic Books, 1979), p. 38.



Adnana Sava