International Conference «Transitions in pedagogical and educational-historical perspective from Middle Ages to Postmodernism»

Organisers: Arbeitskreis Vormoderne Erziehungsgeschichte (the Working Group on Pre-modern Educational History) in the History of Education Research Section of the German Educational Research Association; The Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for the History of Education); The National Pedagogical Museum and Library of JA Comenius; University of Lucerne; Saarland University; Technical University of Liberec; Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Sede di Milano; Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest.

Term and place of the conference: 30.09.–01.10.2021; Národní pedagogické muzeum a knihovna J. A. Komenského, Praha, Valdštejnská 20, Praha 1 (The National Pedagogical Museum and the Library of J. A. Comenius Prague)

Length of presentations: 25 minutes

Conference languages: English and German

The international conference builds on the long-standing tradition of scientific conferences under the auspices of Arbeitskreis Vormoderne Erziehungsgeschichte, which is characterized by broad interdisciplinary cooperation between numerous European university and non-university research institutions. It aims at a profound reflection on pedagogically relevant transitions in historical, cultural, social, religious and political contexts. The life of each individual as well as of whole groups of the European population in early modern and modern times includes many such transitions. A number of them are typical of childhood and adolescence, the life phases on which the conference will primarily focus.  They do not only relate to the physical and mental maturation of a person and thus to the individual phases of their development, but also to education and upbringing in general, including religious upbringing and preparation for a future career. The focus is on formal curricular as well as extra-curricular and non-formal fields of teaching. These transitions are very closely related to numerous accompanying rites (rites of passage, see: « Les rites de passage » by Arnold van Gennep or liminal processes, see: Victor Turner etc.) or refer to a certain period in the biography of a person or a “calendar” of a cultural system.

The shape of the transitions and of the rites of passage is very intensely shaped by the values, identity and mentality (broadly defined by the culture) of the community in which they take place. It is not only the changes associated with them that are central, but often also the safeguarding of tradition and continuity. Therefore, the transfer of values, thoughts and other structures as well as of behavioural patterns is also linked to them. As anthropological, socio-psychological and sociological analyses have shown, the “new” enters the context of the existing structure, be it in the mental area, the socio-emotional map of individual personalities or in the cultural or social framework of the wider milieu. The transfer therefore means a transition from the existing order to a new scheme, to a newly emerging order or to its rejuvenation. The “new constellation” depends to a large extent not only on the “original map” (that is, on the meanings that come into play in the original structure), but also on the processes of the transfer itself, on the transfer of the given specifics of the actors and the conditions of the transfer, or rather on the environment, the framework and the structure which reflect the new impulses.

The transition is interesting for us as an open process to which belong both the original and the new, as a process that is framed not only by time, but also by the visible and invisible goals, the conscious and unconscious “intentions” of the actors as well by the social and cultural conditions, cultural maps and constellations in which what is received is « entered ». The international conference focuses on the interpretation of various forms of rites of passage as well as transitions in general, primarily those associated with the life phases of childhood and adolescence. The symposium will examine “practices” and rules in social and cultural contexts, in education and upbringing, as well as in the theory of pedagogy.

Although the outlined topic has already been explored in part by researchers from the fields of anthropology, ethnology, history and the history of education, there has been no systematic trans-disciplinary research on this topic so far. Most of the work has focused only on a single type or on a few types of transitions, on a specific, mostly narrowly defined region or period of time (mostly the Middle Ages, early modern times, modern times). In particular, there is a lack of comparative analyses, orientation towards a broader geographical area, transfer of concepts and analysis of long-term development trends (“longue durée”). At the same time, there have also been clear barriers between individual humanities disciplines using different approaches and methods, whereby overcoming them may bring about a number of new stimuli. The previously mentioned distinctive elements of continuity, their forms and their meaning represent an issue that has not been investigated in detail so far. The conference theme was deliberately chosen to be very broad. Contributions are welcome from not only historians and researchers in the field of educational science, but also – as is the tradition in Arbeitskreis Vormoderne Erziehungsgeschichte – from scholars from other disciplines relevant to the theme. In particular, the focus should be on the following topics:

  • Terminology related to the subject of transfer, transitions and rites of passage
  • Theoretical concepts of transfer and transitions from the Middle Ages to the present day
  • Types of transfers, transitions and rites of passage
  • Transitions and rites of passage in various denominational, national and social environments
  • Gender-specific transitions and rites of passage
  • Transitions connected with a certain content and a certain type of education and upbringing (at home, private, in monasteries, schools, etc.) or connected with preparation for a future career (e.g. transitions in connection with work in an ecclesiastical order such as the novitiate and the like)
  • Transitions and rites of passage in literature, in the visual arts as well as in material culture in relation to the past (forms of representation, perception at the time, etc.)
  • Development trends of the examined topic in Europe from the Middle Ages to the modern age

Please send draft presentations including an abstract (up to 1 page) by 31 January 2021 to: . The Conference Organisers’ Committee reserves the right to select presentations. If successfully assessed by reviewers, studies based on the oral presentations will be published in an anthology.