2019-07-01Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/20708
The child of the senses. Education and the concept of experience in the eighteenth century
Taking the German picture-encyclopedia Picture Book for Children (1790–1830) of Friedrich J. Bertuch as a vantage point, this article presents a thick historiographical description of the concept of experience and the role of visual material in relation to the figure of the child. I am interested here in the formation of the notion of experience and specifically in the ways experience has played a key role in the debates over the concepts of vitalism, epigenesis, and experience-based (verbal) imagery in the Enlightenment. The broad call for clearness, vividness and the employment of images in the literature of the period highlights crucial negotiations of sense-based practices in education and scholarly knowledge production. Experience, sensation, perception, and observation became catchwords within anthropological and philosophical reflections on how to showcase life itself. Through a careful analysis of early biological images and image practices in Bertuch’s Picture Book, I show the picture was supposed to initiate interaction. Pictures become a crucial part of communication processes and practices of bourgeois self-assurance, also with regards to racialized, sexualized and gendered subject formation.
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This article was supported by the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.