Discourses for the new industrial world: industrialisation and the education of the public in late eighteenth-century Britain

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This article looks at the transmission of ideas in the British Enlightenment. The focus is on three individuals, Matthew Boulton, James Keir and Anna Seward, who constructed and communicated messages about industrialisation in the late eighteenth century to the public rather than through formal education. Boulton, Keir and Seward attempted to shape views about the virtues, values and vices of industrial development. Their context was the English West Midlands, a pioneering industrial region which experienced the application of novel forms of production and economic organisation and led to new ways of interpreting and representing industry. By exploring their activity, this article makes connections between intellectual, social, economic and environmental history and the history of education.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-584
Number of pages18
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • knowledge, intellectuals, historical, women, science