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Religion and adolescence from 1700-1900: autonomy, ritual and community

Religion and adolescence from 1700-1900: autonomy, ritual and community

Martin, Mary ORCID: 0000-0002-3568-6423 (2019) Religion and adolescence from 1700-1900: autonomy, ritual and community. In: 12th Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past: Rebels Without a Cause? Accessing and Exploring Adolescents/Adolescence in the Past, 30 Oct - 01 Nov 2019, Sheffield, UK. (Unpublished)

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The meaning of adolescence in historical and sociological perspective has been much debated by historians. While some note the continuance of the classification adolescentia from the ancient world for ages fourteen to twenty-one, others concur that the term “adolescence” was not in use until G.S.Hall’s magisterial work of 1904. This paper will examine how the terms “youth” and “adolescence” were understood, if at all, between 1700 and 1900 across social classes, within religious contexts. Psychologist Erik Erikson ( 1965 ) identified youth or adolescence as a time of “identity versus role confusion” and historians frequently regard youth and adolescence as a particularly important time for religious conversion.
Religious experience, however, was not confined to conversion favoured by evangelicals, but included rites of passage in the Christian tradition which varied between denominations. For Roman Catholics, age of first communion shifted from seven to twelve after the Counter Reformation, while fourteen to fifteen were usual ages for religious confirmation in the Church of England.
Moreover, adolescence was not only defined by rites of passage, but by the exercise of autonomy by young people, as well as participation in religious practices across the life-cycle. As religion is frequently perceived as a site for socialisation, the paper will explore the binaries of resistance/conformity. In particular, it will prioritise the “voices” of protagonists across social classes, gleaned from diaries, letters, memoirs and autobiographies. Since providing personal testimonies of religious experience was an expectation in many “gathered churches”, and since people from a wide range of social backgrounds wrote or told their life-stories which emerged in print, comparisons across socio-economic groups can be particularly fruitful in this aspect of the history of young people.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: religion, Christianity, adolescence, history, autonomy, ritual, community
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Education (EDU)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > History Research Group (HRG)
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Last Modified: 18 Feb 2021 15:51

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