Tyrants Of The Soul: Prejudices In French Revolutionary Education, 1789-1799

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hannah Malcolm (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Michael Behrent

Abstract: Through analyzing textbooks, educational pamphlets, and the correspondence of the Committee of Public Instruction, I show that prejudices became the object of critique in the era of the Enlightenment and were a continuing topic of political concern during the French Revolution. During the French Revolution, prejudices represented any form of counter-revolutionary tendencies which were presumed to be a result of heteronomous reason and thus posed an epistemological threat to the revolutionary and Enlightenment projects. Correspondents to the Committee adopted revolutionary language to discuss their concerns and so legitimatized the threat of prejudices. The textbook authors believed that moral education, supplemented by appeals to the students’ sensibilities, would be the most effective way to purge prejudices from society. By focusing on the interaction of prominent and everyday revolutionaries within educational discourse, I showed that ordinary people were involved in a process of defining and attacking prejudices rather than simply consenting to a definition imposed from above. Prejudices functioned as a derogatory term used to dismiss others’ ideas on a philosophical premise so as to avoid the necessity of engaging with them. As both their adoption and rejection allowed for a refusal to communicate, the discourse of prejudices therefore occupied an ambivalent space in revolutionary politics.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Malcolm, H. (2016). Tyrants Of The Soul: Prejudices In French Revolutionary Education, 1789-1799. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2016
French Revolution, History of Education, Prejudices, Political Discourse

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