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History of Education Seminar Programme 2017

The ‘History of Education Seminar’ at IHR (Institute of Historical Research) is convened by ICHRE (International Centre for Historical Research in Education) members. The seminar attracts speakers from around the world, providing a forum for established historians as well as early-career researchers to present their work. For further information please contact Gary McCulloch or Georgina Brewis at ioe.ichre@ucl.ac.uk

All welcome, no registration required.


4 May 2017                 Amy Palmer (Froebel College, University of Roehampton)

5.30pm Peter Marshall Room, N204, IHR

The “Mad Hatter’s” adventures in education: Joseph King (1860-1943) and the impact of personality   

Joseph King (1860-1943), known as the “Mad Hatter” partly because of his appearance but also because he was perceived to be something of an eccentric, was a man who cared very much about education in a wide range of arenas. He was a founder of Mansfield House University Settlement and of the Peasant Arts Society, both philanthropic organisations which aimed to improve the lot of the poor, in part through increased educational opportunities.  He was a member of his local Education Committee during the stormy period around the introduction of the 1902 Education Act and a member of parliament between 1910 and 1918, in which role he made many contributions to political debates about educational matters.  He was not an original or a great thinker but time and again he was second in the relay team: the enthusiast, the enabler, a key cog which allowed an idea to take hold.  This paper examines his work in all these spheres, building a picture of how one man sought to influence the world around him and thus contributing to the fundamental debate about the relationship between the individual and the course of history.  Using psychologist David G. Winter’s broad-based definition of “personality”, which encompasses motivation, cognition, traits and social context, it asks how the unique personality of Joseph King impacted on what he could achieve.  It concludes that his connections, his money, the privileges of his class and gender were significant factors in his successes, as was simply being in the right place at the right time.  However, his distinctive traits were also important, for better and for worse.  His forceful manner and pomposity were limiting factors, but his impressive energy and powers of persistence enabled him to make a significant contribution in his own time and to leave a legacy which can be felt today.


1 June 2017    Tehila Sasson (Past & Present Fellow, Institute For Historical Research)

5.30pm Peter Marshall Room, N204, IHR

Children in the Cause of Humanity

“We are the world,” a famous charity group told us in the late twentieth century. The phrase signals a revolutionary shift in how a new generation came to feel about its place in the global community. In the second half of the twentieth century a global ethics has transformed the lives of ordinary people in Britain, the United States and Europe. From television programs to sponsored walkathons, fair trade shops to rock concerts, burgeoning a burgeoning humanitarian culture began ushering global suffering into our daily lives with such scale and frequency that many people empathize more with distant strangers than with their own fellow citizens. With the unraveling of European empires, the rise of Western consumer society, and growing economic disparities between the global North and South, the period saw a radical transformation in the ways in which a broad spectrum of people and institutions joined a new political constituency —“humanity”— that stretched beyond any particular national border. This talk focuses on one aspect of this story: how children and youth have joined a global humanitarian community. The story of this global community has previously been told from the perspective of diplomats, governmental agencies, and aid experts. In this talk, however, I shift this focus to examine how between the 1940s and the 1980s a new aid industry mobilized children in the cause of humanity. The object of aid programs as far back as the nineteenth century, children had always been the focus for humanitarian empathy and compassion in the modern age. But in the late 1960s, when humanitarian and international organizations realized the potential of children as a new market for campaigning, I argue, children also became agents of humanitarian care. Through television shows, sponsored walkathons, educational programs and public festivals children were mobilized to become—as some have put it— citizens of the world.


ICHRE lunchtime seminars 2017

ICHRE’s lunchtime seminar aims to provide a forum for established historians as well as early career researchers and postgraduate students to present and discuss their work. The seminar seeks to foster a culture of collegiality among those – at UCL Institute of Education and elsewhere – exploring education and learning from a historical perspective. Contact m.freeman@ucl.ac.uk for more information or if you would like to give a paper in 2017/8.

All seminars take place at 12 noon on a Thursday at UCL Institute of Education.

Thursday 20 April 2017  (Room 836) Rosie Germain (Liverpool Hope University)

Existentialism and the student critique of colonialism

This paper will consider how existential writing on decolonization and race was used by British and American students criticizing empire and racism after 1945, and thus the role of the public intellectual in public protest. It focuses on the transmission of two written works among students– Sartre’s 1946 Black Orpheus and Frantz Fanon’s 1963 Wretched of the Earth. The paper takes three key angles. Firstly, it considers how existentialism reached students. This involves showing how Sartre in particular was promoted by British and American publishers who feted him as the creator of a new moral system and as the voice of freedom. It also involves demonstrating how Sartre and Fanon were endorsed in popular black magazines published by the revered black publisher, John Johnson in America – these were magazines such as Ebony and Negro Digest, both of which were read on American university campuses. Secondly, the paper considers what students perceived colonialism to be – in America, some black students understood white Americans to be colonial oppressors, and Vietnam as evidence that America continued its aggressive policy of imperialism.  In

Britain colonialism was seen by students as ‘Christian’, and existentialism was welcomed as a replacement moral system to Christianity, suitable for a country whose empire had collapsed. Finally, the paper will consider how existentialism changed how American and British students believed colonialism should be responded to. Sartre’s terms, one of which was ‘anti-racist racism’, combined with Fanon’s endorsement of ‘therapeutic violence’ among the colonised, fuelled the rise of militancy and separatism, and, in particular, characterised the way that black students justified their rejection of pacifism to white audiences in the late 1960s. The overarching question raised by this paper is: what difference did new ideas/concepts make in understandings of society? Was their main use in rhetoric? Or did they provide real power and vision to those who felt inequality and wanted change, but could not realise these goals without a relevant language?


Thursday 18 May 2017 (Room 539) Georgina Brewis (UCL Institute of Education)

Badges, Blue Peter and Band Aid: The long history of children, charity and fundraising in the UK, c. 1885-1985

In 1985 Band Aid and its spin-off campaigns was widely credited with ‘reaching a young audience virtually untouched by charity appeals’. However, such a response is to ignore the much longer history of children’s involvement with charity and with emergency appeals or one-off appeals in particular. This exploratory paper will outline the ways in which children’s ‘auxiliaries’ of well-known charities developed techniques in the late nineteenth century which were widely copied and provided a template for raising funds from children and young people still in operation at the end of the twentieth century.  The presentation will discusses a range of organisations and campaigns dating from the 1880s to the 1980s and use objects to illustrate the insights that can be gained from studying the material culture of children’s charity.


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