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Grant number like: FEL-262159-19

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Cathie Jo Martin
Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)

Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2020 – 6/30/2020

Imagine All the People: Literature, Society and Education in Britain and Denmark, 1700-1920

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the influence of literature on British and Danish educational systems between 1700 and 1920.

Literary narratives beginning in 1700 illuminate why poor, rural Denmark developed early, public mass primary education and extensive vocational training programs, whereas industrial Britain lagged behind. British authors sought schooling for individual self-growth, first for middle-class and later for working-class youth. As ardent social reformers, they promoted equal access to education. Yet their celebration of self-motivated protagonists who conquer structural challenges made it easier to blame those who fail, and to forget about marginal workers. Danish writers depicted education as an investment to strengthen society; they viewed the neglect of working-class youth as a waste of resources and a threat to the social fabric. High socioeconomic equality was a felicitous but fortuitous side effect of this mandate to educate all the people. Archival, textual, and machine learning analyses demonstrate strong linkages among writers and policymakers in these stories of education reform.