Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor David L. Clark
Monitorial schools became popular in ninteenth-century Britain. Under the panoptic control of a single master who was assisted by a cadre of specially selected pupils -- monitors -- these institutions responded, ostensibly, to the need to "educate" the underclass. I argue that rather than being concerned with the improvement of literacy, the promoters of these schools - The Reverend Andrew Bell, Joseph Lancaster and Matthew Davenport Hill, among others -- were driven more by a desire to contain and manage a segment of the population that constituted a perceived threat to social order. The efficient management of the schools' populations demanded of their pupils an unrelenting self-discipline, a seemingly innocuous concept that carries within it chilling implications for the definition of an ideal subject. I refer throughout to the "literature" of the ninteenth-century English monitorial school -- its theoretical and pedagogical treatises, pictorial representations and accounts of educational experiments -- and by using Michel Foucault's theories of power, I determine the actual force relations that obtain there, defining precisely the nature of a discipline that operates, as Bell writes, "through the agency of the scholars themselves". Having established the educational context out of which monitorial schools emerged, I proceed, in part one of the dissertation, to examine mainly the works of Joseph Lancaster and Matthew Davenport Hill. By reference to their tracts, I show how the monitorialists used the emerging technologies of detention to create a subject population whose bodies became the point of applictation not only of "education," but also a complex form of socio-political experimentation. In the second part I investigate the attraction for Samuel Taylor Coleridge of The Reverend Andrew Bell's monitorial theory, revealing that what some critics have seen as Coleridge's paradoxical attraction to monitorialism is, in fact, a confirmation of his own idealistic vision for England's social hierarchy.
Newman, Neville F., "The Subject of a Disciplined Space: Power relations in England's Nineteenth-century monitorial schools" (1998). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2138.