Toward a transnational history of the English Public Schools

Petter Sandgren, Stockholm University
1 February 2018

This talk revisits and rethinks the idea of the English Public Schools as a global model for elite boarding schools. The argument at the heart of this presentation is that from the beginning of the nineteenth century and onwards, there existed something that could be understood as a ’global transnational field’ of elite boarding schools. During the formation of this transnational field, the English public schools quickly emerged as an international gold standard for what an elite boarding school should look like. The ethos and educational ideology of the Victorian English public schools thus not only spread throughout the vast British Empire, but also left a lasting impact in countries such as Denmark, Greece, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Notwithstanding this process of a global diffusion of the English public school model, this talk also highlights the importance ideas emanating from outside the British Isles have had in shaping the present-day English public schools and the transnational field that they are a part of.

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