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Lecture 1

EN 3636 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Jacques Le Goff, David Herlihy, Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Course Code
EN 3636
Richardine Woodall

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Interrogating Innocence:
September 22, 2017
Essentialism: The philosophical doctrine of essences. The doctrine that things have an essence or
ideal nature that is independent of and prior to their existence
Social Construction:
1. "childhood" - both the institution and construction of - was composed by adults, usually
those of the professional middle class
2. Historians agree that 'ideas like parenthood and childhood are socially existed constructed
and thus can be put together in [a] diverse sets of ways
3. Definitions of childhood must to some extent be dependent upon the society from which
they emerge (Harry Hendricks)
Universal Childhood: That which applies across regional, national, racial differences, especially
though education.
Bildungsroman: a kind of novel that follows the development of the hero or heroine from
childhood or adolescence into adulthood, through a troubled quest for identity
Treatise: detailed written account of a subject. A formal written work that deals with a subject
systemically and usually extensively.
The Quest for a Turning Point
Looking for long term changes in conceptions of childhood
Phillipe Ariès
o Wrote Centuries of Childhood
o Wanted to document the early modern period of a sentiment de l'enfance (an
awareness of childhood and a feeling for it)
o Outlined a twofold set of changes between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries
o Seventeenth century reformers replaced coddling with a psychological interest and
moral solicitude
o Some individuals began to recognize the innocence and weakness of childhood
The result of this was the imposition of a long childhood among the middle
o Shift in the cultural sphere due to the growing influence of Christianity and a new
interest in education
These new concerns gradually transformed society during the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries
Concept of childhood emerged during early medieval period or late nineteenth century
The 'discovery' of childhood is open to question
o If we are to believe that childhood was discovered, it assumes childhood to be a
timeless category waiting to be found.
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o This rules out the recent strategy of considering childhood as a social construct that
will vary in different periods and places
o The notion that innocence and weakness are truths about childhood rather than a
construct is deeply suspect
o There is an ebbing and flowing in the interest in the young, the ebbing and flowing
jumps between competing conceptions of childhood
When were the important turning points and how did they relate to changing material and
cultural conditions?
'Discoveries' during the Middle Ages
Pierre Riché
o Wrote during the 1960's
o Argued that between the sixth and eighth centuries the monastic system 'rediscovered'
the nature of the child
o Monasteries were in charge of raising and educating children
o Monastic teachers were able to challenge the generally low opinion of childhood that
was inherited from the Romans and early Church Fathers
Jacques Le Goff
o Historian
o Asserted that the 'utilitarian middle ages' had too many other problems to notice
St. Columban
o Late sixth century
o Said children could be superior monks because they do not stay angry, bear grudges,
lust after flesh, and are completely honest
o Had a favourable view of the child
o Believed children were good to teach as they faithfully absorbed what is taught to
them wholesome
Twelfth century and its renaissance were a truly critical phase in the history of childhood
because of changes in the Christian concept of children
Ronald Carron
o Discovery of children in the 13th century
o A series of social upheavals in the social and economic spheres
o Agrarian revolution brought improvements in techniques of cultivation, forest
clearances and the settlement of waste land
o Population in Europe doubled between mid-tenth and mid-fourteenth centuries from
22.6 million to 54.4 million
o Securing of Mediterranean encouraged trade to flourish
o Young people in urban environments could choose a career (monk, knight, secular
clerk) and parents had o confront a childhood different from their own
David Herlihy
o Historian
o Argued that result was increased social and psychological investment in children.
Resources were devoted to their education and health, more thought was given to
child-rearing and teaching methods
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