UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Former ou déformer: la pédagogie noire en France au XIXe siècle Wallace, David Jeremy


Inspired by the work of the Swiss psychotherapist Alice Miller (For Your Own Good, 1983) on the negative effects of traditional childrearing practices in Germany, this thesis posits the existence in France of a similar tradition of "poisonous pedagogy," also founded on a set of moral principles and pedagogical techniques designed to desensitize, demoralize, and blame the child while protecting the parent/teacher. Working under the banner of Cultural Studies, I study examples of pedagogical discourse taken from a variety of cultural productions, ranging from moral treatises (lay and religious) and books on infant care (puericulture) to children's stories, primary school readers, and civics texts. Drawing on Michel Foucault's paradigms of power/knowledge and the "archeology" of knowledge, this study focusses on the various constructions of the child in nineteenth-century France. Beginning with an analysis of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's influential Emile ou de l’education (1762), this study traces the legacy of poisonous pedagogy in France during the July Monarchy, the Second Empire and the Third Republic. During the nineteenth century the discourse on children was in constant mutation, and opposing perspectives clashed throughout the century, although criticism of poisonous pedagogy became strong only in the last quarter of the century during the Third Republic. Child advocates at this time can be found in many different spheres-education, politics, medicine-but the contribution of literary writers to the discourse on children is perhaps the most dramatic of any group. The harshest criticisms of poisonous pedagogy and its concomitant construction of the child came at the end of the century in the form of two literary works: Jules Valles's L'Enfant (1879), and Jules Renard's Poil de Carotte (1894). By skillfully weaving powerful attacks on the techniques and principles of poisonous pedagogy into their texts, these two writers prefigure the pedagogical discourse of modern-day psychologists and child specialists.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.