Literary Narratives on the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-century French Elite Educational System: Rituals and Total Institutions (Studies in French C

Literary Narratives on the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-century French Elite Educational System: Rituals and Total Institutions (Studies in French C

By: J. David Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author), Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus (author)Hardback

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This book explores the mysteries of a particular type of total institution, boarding schools for the French elite during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. These mysteries are explored through the theory of structural ritualization. Developed in earlier books and articles by the authors, the theory posits that certain kinds of behavior observed and performed predict future engagement in the behavior. This book explores the mysteries of a particular type of total institution, boarding schools for the French elite during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. These mysteries are explored through the theory of structural ritualization. Developed in earlier books and articles by the authors, the theory posits that certain kinds of behavior observed and performed predict future engagement in the behavior. The particular sequences of behaviors are termed ritualized symbolic practices. Dependent upon repetition, salience and similarity of the practices, the ritualized practices become more or less central to life. This theoretical orientation and the demonstration of how the ritualized symbolic practices were instituted in both surprising and unsurprising ways was the subject of the authors' first book, "The Social Worlds of Male and Female Children in the Nineteenth Century French Educational System: Youth Rituals and Elites." In this companion piece to their first book, Frederique Van de Poel-Knottnerus and David Knottnerus emphasize the narratives of the students. The authors' strategy is to "let the literary accounts speak for themselves." This is an important and innovative addition to the literature in two important ways. First, the reader is treated to translations not heretofore available. Many of the narratives presented are drawn from sources published in French and so Van de Poel-Knottnerus's translations represent the first time they have appeared in English. Even those passages previously translated by others have been translated from the original French for this book. These translations address both the male and female elite educational systems. There are parallel accounts of the systems themselves and then parallel examinations of the personal and social worlds of the girls and boys. Nearly all of these literary narratives are taken directly from novels, short stories, biographies, fictionalized autobiographies, diaries, and memoirs dealing with French elite school in the nineteenth century. Secondly, these narratives provide an important access for writers who might not otherwise have an audience. While some of the authors are well known (for example, Flaubert, Sand, Balza, de Beauvoir, and Cocteau), many others are relatively unknown. In connection with giving voice to those could not be heard before, somewhat more space is devoted to girls rather than boys to moderate the traditional neglect of girls' experiences. As indicated in the first volume, readers are witnesses to two differing kinds of total institutions that characterized these educational systems. For boys, there is an emphasis upon hierarchy and the rituals that support the hierarchy. Many times, this is made particularly potent through mortification. The reported narratives are often horrifically compelling. For example in one excerpt, we find that schoolboys were sent to "jail" for stealing sweets - twelve hours for one transgression. But, in an interesting insight into the mind of the boy, we also learn that the time spent imprisoned is made bearable by the anticipated pleasure of capturing rats in the cell. Further reports of brutality involving kicking, punching, whipping appear often. In one report (Sylvere 1980:124) reports how one of the teachers would" throw me on the floor and forcefully kick me in the chest and ribs, not caring if he reached my sensitive parts." In support of the theory of structural ritualization, the often-repeated hierarchical rituals resulted in a savage reproduction of the hierarchy among the boys themselves. As reported by Balzac (1948:265), "Our masters despised us and we fell equally under the ban of our schoolmates, from whom we hid our contraband studies in dread of ridicule." For girls, very different kinds of reports emerge from the total institutions. Instead of the rigid hierarchy reported by the boys, the girls often developed an intimacy with the teachers. Relationships and "goodness"(but not necessarily traditional education) were stressed. In the girls' words we are treated to glowing tributes to teachers. For example Van de Poel-Knottnerus and Knottnerus provide us insight from Bernhardt (1968:19): "What secret instinct could have told this woman, was not coquettish, who had no looking-glass and never troubled about beauty, that her face was fascinating and that her bright smile could enliven the gloom of the convent?" And in a report by Audoux (1911:32-33), "Sister Marie-Aimee waited on us with a smile and a word for each of us." This book is a feast of narrative. It is woven within a strong theoretical context that is the focus of the first book, "The Social Worlds of Male and Female Children in the Nineteenth Century French Educational System: Youth Rituals and Elites." But this volume is devoted to providing voice to those who experienced these schools. This collection emphasizes the boys and girls, and as stated by the authors: "They gave us their word." The words of the boys and girls selected, translated and lovingly situated by the authors provide a rare and intriguing view into the lives of the students. This book, like its predecessor, is innovative and makes the emphatic point that literary ethnography can provide powerful analytic and emotionally evocative examinations.

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Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS i PREFACE iii CHAPTER I: THEY GAVE US THEIR WORD: TRUTH, REALITY AND OTHER FACTUAL DEVICES IN LITERATURE 1 CHAPTER II: THE MALE ELITE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: VOICES FROM A TOTAL INSTITUTION 37 CHAPTER II: THE PERSONAL AND SOCIAL WORLD OF MALE YOUTH: LITERARY ACCOUNTS AND OBSERVATIONS 63 CHAPTER IV THE FEMALE ELITE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: LITERARY DEPICTIONS AND ACCOUNTS 92 CHAPTER V THE PERSONAL AND SOCIAL WORLD OF FEMALE YOUTH: DEPICTIONS FROM LITERATURE 123 Chapter VI CONCLUSION 155 REFERENCES 164 INDEX 174

Product Details

  • publication date: 30/11/2002
  • ISBN13: 9780773470330
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 196
  • ID: 9780773470330
  • ISBN10: 0773470336

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