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Title: Climbing ladders : children and monastic formation in England, c.950-1200
Author: Hodgson, Steven George
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 1907
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis seeks to understand the lives of oblates, children given by their parents to Benedictine monasteries in England between c.950 and 1200. Scholars have long recognised that children were important to monastic recruitment and drawn attention to the significance of the ritual by which they entered religious houses, but few have explored their experiences afterward. This thesis addresses that gap. It seeks to demonstrate the capacity of surviving sources to establish conditions of boyhood and girlhood after oblation, and it argues that these give us access to and allow us to understand changes in their development between infancy and adolescence. It also argues that a child-centric approach, focussed on examining evidence for child experience, allows us to represent children's development in a more realistic way, showing how their world-views were informed by encounters with religious knowledge in disciplinary, liturgical, and literary spheres. Chapter one asks whether children's experience of discipline relied upon the preferences of teachers in Anglo-Saxon England, but were shaped by processes of institutionalisation at Canterbury after the Norman Conquest. Chapter two assumes that boys and girls were probably formed by similar experiences of liturgical performance, but it also examines evidence for competition, and suggests that processions became more significant to boys' experiences after the Conquest and that girls may have encountered a different emphasis in their needlework. Chapter three, on literary instruction, explores how experiences of learning Latin grammar played a role in shaping children's religious knowledge, behaviour, and monastic identities. Chapter four, on adolescence, argues that adulthood was signposted by the emergence of a new ritual of confirmation as well as by children's training in activities explored previously, and it confirms the significance of some of these experiences through an examination of children's own surviving compositions.
Supervisor: Foot, Sarah Sponsor: Wolfson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Childhood ; Monasticism ; Education