Education of the Heart
As the nature and depth of our friendships comes under scrutiny in an era of Social Networking, Dr Thomas Dixon presents a major new history of the changing meaning of friendship over the centuries.
Episode 7: Education of the Heart
Today, we tend to view friendships among children as a good thing, but in the 18th century, improving "conduct manuals" tended to warn children off friendship, seeing it as fraught with danger. In an era of large families, friendships among siblings were considered far safer.
Thomas Dixon learns from the distinguished expert on the history of childhood, Professor Hugh Cunningham, how the reduction of family size and the spread of mass education in the 19th century began, inevitably to challenge this notion.
But the idea of the dangers of friendship for children persisted.
Thomas Dixon goes on to explore with children's literature specialist, Dr Matthew Grenby, how the classic school stories of the 19th century - from Matthew Arnold's Tom Brown's Schooldays to Angela Brazil's A Fourth Form Friendship - continued to provide moral advice about friendship, buried within their depiction of algebra, lacrosse and midnight feasts in the dorm.
Producer Beaty Rubens.
Ginger S. Frost, Victorian Childhoods (Praeger, 2009)
Matthew Grenby, The Child Reader, 1700–1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
The History of Emotions blog
Beaty Rubens, ‘Stranger danger in the 18th Century’
Thomas Dixon, ‘Leaving the magic kingdom’
Helen Rogers and the Writing Lives project, ‘Memories of improvement’