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Globalising Eton. A Transnational History of Elite Boarding Schools since 1799

Dates:
  • Wed 24 May 2017 15.00 - 17.00
  Add to Calendar 2017-05-24 15:00 2017-05-24 17:00 Europe/Paris Globalising Eton. A Transnational History of Elite Boarding Schools since 1799

This thesis uses the Swedish boarding school Lundsberg to write a global history of elite boarding schools and, more broadly, to reflect upon the transnationally interconnected nature of elites. The research draws on primary sources from Lundsberg, Sweden, but also from boarding schools in other parts of Europe, as well as in Africa, America, Asia, and Australia. The argument at the heart of this thesis is that from the beginning of the nineteenth century and onwards, there existed something that could be understood as a semi-autonomous global ‘field’, in the Bourdieusian sense of the term, of independent boarding schools. During the formation of this global field, English ‘public’ secondary boarding schools such as Winchester College, Eton College, and Rugby School, quickly emerged as an international gold standard for what an elite boarding school should look like. The ethos and educational ideology of the Victorian English public schools thus not only spread throughout the vast British Empire, but also left a lasting impact in countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. In competing over pupils and prestige, these institutional incumbents have constantly been challenged by more ‘progressive’ or ‘modern’ alternatives that are generally based on ideas emanating from outside the British Isles. There have, in other words, always existed two strands within the global field of elite boarding schools: a ‘progressive’ one and a ‘conservative’ one, and there has never been any insurmountable barrier between them. I argue that since the second half of the twentieth century, a globally standardised ‘composite’ elite boarding school model has emerged. These composite boarding schools have integrated key elements from the progressive New Education Movement, while at the same time having retained many of the symbols and rituals of the English public schools of the Victorian era as a veneer of elite distinction. Notwithstanding this process of globalisation, I argue that the rationale of the nation state in the formation of elites through education remains to be reckoned with. In other words, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, new ‘global’ elites continue to be constructed first and foremost at the national and local levels, and elite boarding schools continue to play an important role in that process.

Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

This thesis uses the Swedish boarding school Lundsberg to write a global history of elite boarding schools and, more broadly, to reflect upon the transnationally interconnected nature of elites. The research draws on primary sources from Lundsberg, Sweden, but also from boarding schools in other parts of Europe, as well as in Africa, America, Asia, and Australia. The argument at the heart of this thesis is that from the beginning of the nineteenth century and onwards, there existed something that could be understood as a semi-autonomous global ‘field’, in the Bourdieusian sense of the term, of independent boarding schools. During the formation of this global field, English ‘public’ secondary boarding schools such as Winchester College, Eton College, and Rugby School, quickly emerged as an international gold standard for what an elite boarding school should look like. The ethos and educational ideology of the Victorian English public schools thus not only spread throughout the vast British Empire, but also left a lasting impact in countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. In competing over pupils and prestige, these institutional incumbents have constantly been challenged by more ‘progressive’ or ‘modern’ alternatives that are generally based on ideas emanating from outside the British Isles. There have, in other words, always existed two strands within the global field of elite boarding schools: a ‘progressive’ one and a ‘conservative’ one, and there has never been any insurmountable barrier between them. I argue that since the second half of the twentieth century, a globally standardised ‘composite’ elite boarding school model has emerged. These composite boarding schools have integrated key elements from the progressive New Education Movement, while at the same time having retained many of the symbols and rituals of the English public schools of the Victorian era as a veneer of elite distinction. Notwithstanding this process of globalisation, I argue that the rationale of the nation state in the formation of elites through education remains to be reckoned with. In other words, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, new ‘global’ elites continue to be constructed first and foremost at the national and local levels, and elite boarding schools continue to play an important role in that process.


Location:
Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Examiner:
Prof. Bo Stråth
Prof. Youssef Cassis (EUI)
Prof. Gary McCulloch (University College London)

Supervisor:
Pavel Kolar (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Defendant:
Petter Sandgren (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

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