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Palgrave Macmillan

Education, Travel and the 'Civilisation' of the Victorian Working Classes

ISBN 9781137338075
Publication Date February 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

In the second half of the nineteenth century, middle-class liberal reformers attempted to ameliorate class tensions, prepare the working classes for citizenship, and improve British industry by reforming working-class secondary and adult education. One feature of their movement was the promotion of working-class travel in Europe and the Empire.
In Education, Travel and the 'Civilisation' of the Victorian Working Classes, Michele Strong considers the experiences of working men and women, particularly artisans, but also young apprentices and clerks, who travelled abroad as participants in this reform movement, focusing particularly on the ways in which four overlapping institutions during the Victorian era drew workers into international travel: Thomas Cook and Son (a travel agency); The Working Men's Club and Institute Union (a national organization of clubs intended for rational recreation and cross-class interaction); the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce, and Manufacturers (a quasi-governmental organization); and the London Regent Street Polytechnic (a social and educational institute for young wage earners). Canvassing a broad array of working class and middle class voices culled from diaries, letters, autobiographies, and published reports, Strong argues that working-class educational travel became a battleground for competing notions of citizenship, class, gender, and national identities.

Dr. Michele M. Strong is Associate Professor of History at the University of South Alabama, USA.

Introduction: Grand Tours and Workers' Tours: Rethinking Victorian Travel and Education
1. 'A True Agent of Civilisation': Travel and the 'Educational Idea'
2. Turning the 'Educational Idea' on its Head: The Lib/Lab Alliance and the Organization of the 1867 Working Men's Exhibition Tours
3. 'The Lessons of Paris': The 1867 Working Men's Exhibition Tours and the Artisan Imagination
4. 'High Attainments': The Artisan Exhibition Tours and the Campaign for Technical Education, 1867-1889
5. Class Trips and the Meaning of British Citizenship: The Regent Street Polytechnic at Home and Abroad, 1871-1903
6. Conclusion: Goody, Gordon, and Shilpa Shetty 'Poppadom': The Politics of Study Abroad from the New Liberalism to New Labour


"Strong's intensive use of archival resources offers a significant contribution to understanding the international experiences of
working class travelers from Britain who, through their travels, continued to reassess rapid social and industrial change at home ... in its overall quality of research and writing this monograph should continue to be of interest for scholars of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain interested in international travel as envisioned and experienced by members of the working classes and liberal reformers." - Cercles
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