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Curiosity, youth, and knowledge in the visual and textual culture of the Dutch Republic

  • Els Stronks (a1)

Argument

The imitation of adults was the dominant educational early modern model, as it had been from the classical era. Yet, from 1500 onward, this traditional model clashed with new pedagogical ideals that explored if and how the youthful mind differed from the adult. To investigate this clash, I examine individual and aggregate cases – taken from the Dutch (illustrated) textual culture – representing conceptualizations of what has been labelled “the curiosity family” (concepts such as curiosity, inquisitiveness, invention). As previously established, during the seventeenth century, curiosity turned from a vice to a virtue among adults. Textual evidence suggests that for the early modern Dutch youth, docility, long valued, remained the guiding ideal. Shortly after 1700, however, two changes can be detected: for youth, travel literature and travel as a metaphor became a means to explore the world without adults; and for adults, the experimental learning style of the young became a new learning model.

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