History seminars at the IHR

Education in the Long 18th Century

Convenors: Michèle Cohen (RAIUL and IOE), Mary Clare Martin (Greenwich), Mark Burden (Oxford)  

Venue: John S Cohen Room 203, 2nd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House

Time: Saturday 2.00-4.00pm

We aim to provide a relaxed forum for conversation and debate on all aspects of research into education during the long eighteenth century. To this end, we will explore a variety of modes of presentation as starting point for discussion and debate, from reading group led by an invited speaker, to papers and panels.

We usually continue the conversation over tea and cakes afterwards.

We expect contributions to be last between 25 to 40 minutes maximum, to allow for discussion, and we welcome papers-in-progress from all, especially graduate students who would like to air and share ideas. Most of all, we aim to provide a space for friendly and supportive discussion where everyone feels they can participate, and bring together researchers on eighteenth-century education dispersed throughout the British Isles and beyond.

Spring Term 2016
DateSeminar details
30 January Pinnock's Catechisms, 1812-1840: schoolbooks for "the meanest capacity"

Margaret Lock  (Independent Scholar)

TPinnock's Catechisms were one of the most successful schoolbook series of the first half of the nineteenth century. When George Eliot, in The Mill on the Floss (1860), mentions "Pinnock and porridge" as staples of the school room, she can be confident that her readers will understand the allusion. In writing the Catechisms, Pinnock adopted the format which traditionally was used for religious education. Students were expected to memorize the answer to each question, just as they did when learning Watts's Catechisms. Pinnock wanted students to enjoy learning. He wrote the earliest Catechisms in a plain, "familial" style, which any student could understand, and included entertaining details. These Catechisms were introductions to commonly taught subjects. Ideally, after learning the terminology and basic facts about the subject from the Catechism, students would progress to larger, more detailed and demanding textbooks.  About 1818, the series expanded beyond the "core curriculum" role to become a "perfect juvenile encyclopædia." By 1830, there were about 80 titles in print. Though the Catechisms cost only ninepence, Pinnock was able to provide most of them with an engraved frontispiece. The pretty gift-book title-page spread consolidated the brand. Pinnock's Catechisms prevailed against pirated editions, imitators and the subsidized publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. The owners of a few of the Catechisms can be traced. They indicate that the series was part of the educational experience of children from a diverse social backgrounds. This paper will concentrate on the physical appearance of the Catechisms, but also speculate about the significance of the series


5 March Needlework Education in the Long Eighteenth Century

Rosanne Waine  (Bath Spa)

Venue: Past and Present Room 202, 2nd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House


Summer Term 2016
DateSeminar details
23 April "Passionate, dedicated and loyal": characteristics of the leaders of early Mechanics' Institutes in south-east England, 1825-1840

Jana Sims (Independent Scholar)


7 May Natural graces, natural genius: gender and 'accomplishments' in the long eighteenth century

Michèle Cohen  (UCL Institute of Education)