Research

“Children are still in the flowering of life, they still have an imagination, a passion for life that is lost on adults [who are] jaded by life’s experience.”

“Projet pour l’établissement d’école des enfants,” 1698 (Archives Nationales, K 1374)

Interior of the Wetter Brothers calico factory in Orange, France, c. 1764 In the background, children can be seen embroidering, pressing, and dying textiles.

Interior of the Wetter Brothers calico factory in Orange, France, c. 1764
In the background, children and teenagers (likely apprentices) can be seen embroidering, pressing, and dying textiles.  This is one of the best images available of early modern children at work.

RESEARCH

My research focuses on the history of early modern and revolutionary France, with particular attention to the history of childhood, youth, education, gender, social reform, state formation, and global expansion.

My first book, Young Subjects: Children, State-Reform, and Social Building in the Eighteenth-Century French World, argues that children were agents of historical change in eighteenth century France. Through their participation in social reform programs from educational institutions, to artisan workshops, and across the French empire as colonists and cultural brokers, children and youth occupied important positions in the eighteenth-century French state. Fitting with this methodological lens,

my research interests are squarely in the history of childhood and youth. Historians have often overlooked the importance and centrality of children and childhood to the development of the early modern economy, the state, the French Revolution, and in overseas exploration and expansion.

My next project pursues my core interests in the history of childhood, education, social reform, and colonial expansion. “Little Republicans: Youth Inculcation and Experience in the French Revolution” will examine the history of youth experience and inculcation from 1789 to 1815. This project draws heavily on the archives of the Comité de l’Instruction Publique and other revolutionary committees that discussed the importance of education and inculcation as “keys” to the continued success of the early French Republic. “Little Republicans” will build on Young Subjects to consider this pivotal period in the history of childhood and youth.

My book projects all reframe our explanations of how the early modern family, economy, state, Church, and community developed throughout the early modern era. Once on the periphery of history, my research places children at the nexus of social reform and change.

List of Research Fields (Broadly Defined): Early Modern Europe; Early Modern France; Childhood, Children, and Youth; Education; Gender; Social Reform; Colonization and Empire(s); Commerce and Economics; Labor; State-Building; Subjecthood; Catholic Reformation

Archives Consulted:

France:

  • Lyon, France: Archives Départementales du Rhône, Archives Municipales de Lyon
  • Paris, France: Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Site Mitterrand & Site Richelieu), Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Archives Nationales, Bibliothèque Mazarine, Archives d’Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Archives de la Société des Missions Étrangères
  • Rouen, France: Archives Départementales de la Seine Maritime

United States:

  • Chicago, Illinois: The Newberry Library
  • Austin, Texas: The Harry Ransom Center

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