Professor Christina de Bellaigue

Featured Publication

Christina de Bellaigue (ed.) Home Education in Historical Perspective: Domestic pedagogies in England and Wales 1750-1900 (Routledge, March 2016)

Home Education in Historical Perspective: Domestic pedagogies in England and Wales 1750-1900

This book is the first publication to devote serious attention to the history of home education from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. It brings together work by historians, literary scholars and current practitioners who shed new light on the history of home-schooling in the UK both as a practice and as a philosophy. The six historical case studies point to the significance of domestic instruction in the past, and uncover the ways in which changing family forms have affected understandings of the purpose, form and content of education. At the same time, they uncover the ways in which families and individuals adapted to the expansion of formalised schooling. The final article - by philosopher and Elective Home Education practitioner and theorist Richard Davies - uncovers the ways in which the historical analysis can illuminate our understanding of contemporary education. As a whole, the volume offers stimulating insights into the history of learning in the home, and into the relationship between families and educational practice, that raise new questions about the objectives, form and content of education in the past and today. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Oxford Review of Education.

  • social mobility and social structure
  • childhood and adolescence
  • education

My work explores the social and cultural history of nineteenth-century England and France, focusing in particular on the history of education, the history of childhood, and on the history of social mobility.

My monograph Educating Women examined the development of schooling for middle class girls in England and France. While tracking the evolution of the teaching profession and changes in the instruction offered to girls, it highlighted differences between the dominant conceptions of femininity in the two countries and demonstrates how gender interacted with religion, social, economic and legal factors to determine the opportunities and constraints of women’s lives in the two countries. My recent work builds on this research to explore the relationship between gender and adolescence in Britain and France, examining the ways in which, in the early nineteenth century, a new wave of scientific and medical literature developed new theories of adolescence which influenced the treatment and experiences of young people in significant ways, and contributed to new patterns in family life and schooling.
A second strand in my research examines the comparative history of social mobility in England and France. In 2013 I was awarded funding by TORCH (the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) to set up an interdisciplinary research network exploring qualitative approaches to the history and study of social mobility. Entitled ‘Rags to Riches:
experiences of social mobility’ this group brings together historians, sociologists, anthropologists and education experts interested in developing new ways to extend our understanding of patterns and experiences of social mobility and provides a context for my own project on nineteenth-century England and France. Exploring the fortunes of French and English families of the industrial bourgeoisie over three generations, and setting these case studies in broader statistical context, this project sheds new light on the relationship between gender, family and social mobility. At the same time, by taking a family-biographical approach and exploring the ways in which individuals and families understood and managed changes in their social position, it uncovers the intimate and emotional history of the experience of social mobility, aspects of social change which have
been neglected by the existing scholarship which has been dominated by large-scale quantitative analyses.

  • Afterword

  • ‘Rags to Riches?’ New Histories of Social Mobility in Modern Britain - Introduction

  • Great Expectations? Childhood, Family, and Middle-Class Social Mobility in Nineteenth-Century England

  • 'The Time of Storms': managing bourgeois girls' puberty in France, 1800-1870

  • Home Education in Historical Perspective

  • Home education 1750–1900: domestic pedagogies in England and Wales in historical perspective

  • Charlotte Mason, home education, school education and the Parents’ National Educational Union in the late nineteenth century

  • 'Only what is pure and exquisite': girls' reading at school in France, 1800-70

  • Faith and Religion

  • De la femme aux individus: l'histoire du genre en Grand Bretagne, des annees 1960 a nos jours

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • William Clement
  • Graham Harding
  • Catherine Sloan

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding 19thC Century cultural and social history, comparative history of 19thC, history of education, history of childhood and adolescence, history of social mobility, history of business and the professions or any potential Masters students looking at 19thC gender and women's history, history of education, history of childhood.

I currently teach:


Foreign Texts: Tocqueville Special Subject: Becoming a citizen
Approaches to History: Gender History Disciplines of History