Event Date: 24 March 2015
Royal Holloway University of London
Departmental Research seminars 2014/2015
Margaret Bird (RHUL) – Inculcating an appreciation of time pressure in the young: the training of children for working life in 18th-century England
The rearing of children has been a topic at the centre of academic debate since the Annales historian Philippe Ariès analysed le sentiment de l’enfance in 1960.
Margaret Bird’s exploration of the tensions between respecting children as individuals and the need to hurry them into maturity for working life relates to the mercantile and manufacturing class in England. Understanding time pressure, as in expecting six-year-olds to watch the clock, formed part of their moulding as useful members of society. Time-conscious capitalism and Calvinism lay behind much of the thinking. It draws in part on the newly published diary of Mary Hardy, wife of a farmer and manufacturer.