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Work in HandScript, Print, and Writing, 1690-1840$
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Aileen Douglas

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198789185

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198789185.001.0001

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Round Hand’s Dominions

Round Hand’s Dominions

(p.75) 3 Round Hand’s Dominions
Work in Hand

Aileen Douglas

Oxford University Press

The Irish charter schools, begun in the 1730s, and Andrew Bell’s Madras system, devised in India in the 1790s, demonstrate how, in the context of colonial pedagogy, writing was a sign of civilization. The use of student writing in these institutions exemplifies Foucault’s concept of discipline. In neither case, however, was the disciplinary function of writing achieved. In the Irish charter schools the policy of combining useful labour with learning militated against the children’s acquisition of skill in writing. The disciplinary efficacy of Bell’s system was undermined internally by his borrowing of the Indian practice of sand writing. His attempts to replicate the system in England, at a time of resurgent hostility to writing instruction for the poor in the wake of the French Revolution, forced Bell to relinquish writing for all as a utopian scheme, even though writing was a fundamental part of his system’s machinery.

Keywords:   Irish charter schools, Madras system, colonial pedagogy, Foucault, discipline, writing specimen, sand writing, civilization, machinery, poor

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