Dangerous, Seductive, and Innovative. Visual Sources for the History of Education

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This chapter focuses on images as sources for the history of education. Those sources could be scientifically dangerous - do they provide strong enough evidence? -, seductive - with their potential of bringing the researcher almost face to face with people in the past -, and innovative in adding new evidence and new insight to the history of education. After a discussion of the sources’ dangerous and seductive aspects because of its complex relationship with educational reality, we concentrate on seventeenth-century emblematic books with educational and moral messages for parents and adolescents. Some emblems, consisting of text and image, are analyzed and interpreted with classic historic source criticism and with an educational variant of the iconographic method. It could indeed be concluded that also those visual sources could be dangerous and seductive. They, however, may shed new light on important issues in the history of education such as parenting and moral education, and also, if approached by historical source criticism, they do not differ in evidential value and strength from the traditional sources for the history of education and childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFolds of Past, Present and Future. Reconfiguring Contemporary Histories of Education
EditorsSarah Van Ruyskensvelde, Geert Thyssen, Frederik Herman, Angelo Van Gorp, Pieter Verstraete
Place of PublicationOldenbourg
PublisherDe Gruyter Oldenbourg
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-062372-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-062250-8
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2021


  • Visual sources, Emblems, Early Modern Europe, Parenting, Historical Sensation

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