Knowledgeable Youngsters – Conference Page

Knowledgeable Youngsters: Youth, Media and Early Modern Knowledge Societies

June 26 and 27, 2015, Utrecht
University Museum Utrecht, Lange Nieuwstraat 106, Grote Vergaderzaal

Contact: Feike Dietz /
(10 euro per day; free admission for guests who don’t lunch with us)
To twitter about the event, you can use the hashtag #KY2015UU.

The international conference Knowledgeable Youngsters seeks to fill an important gap in our understanding of the early modern knowledge culture: the significance of youth literacies. How were the young (loosely defined here as ‘unmarried people’) taught to interpret and use textual and visual media (abilities commonly defined as ‘literacies’), and were thus capable to creatively and productively contribute to scientific, cultural, economic, and social innovations of the period?

Recent research has highlighted the importance of adult literacy for the revolutionary transformation of a knowledge culture in Western Europe between 1500-1800. But hardly any research has been done into the dynamics between the rising knowledge culture and the role of youth, although in the past decades historians and literary scholars have recognized the crucial role of youth culture in the social change and the creative outburst in early modern Europe. We know surprisingly little about the significance of youth literacies for intellectual, cultural, professional, personal, social and religious life in a period that witnessed a revolutionary change in media of communication.

The central question of this conference, therefore, is: How were young people trained and invited to develop literacies that were vital to their professional careers and personal lives, and what did their literacies contribute to the flourishing of the new knowledge-based society?

This conference brings together distinguished experts in the fields of early modern knowledge culture, visual arts and textual culture who are dedicated to conduct and stimulate research into the interdependence of literacies, knowledge production and early modern youth in West-Europe.



10.00 registration
    University Museum Utrecht, Lange Nieuwstraat 106, Grote Vergaderzaal

Plenary Session 1 – History of Education and Literacies: Results and New Perspectives
chair: prof. dr. Maarten Prak (Utrecht University)
10.30 opening by the dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, Utrecht University, prof. dr. Keimpe Algra 
10.45 plenary lecture prof. dr. Bert De Munck (University of Antwerp), Access and Assessment: A Cross-over View on Literacy and Knowledge
11.45 plenary lecture dr. Dirk van Miert (Utrecht University): The decline of a multimedial pedagogy in higher education 1600-1800

12.45 discussion, followed by a lunch

Panel Session 1 – Teaching Materials

chair: prof. dr. Jonathan Barry (University of Exeter)
14.00 paper dr. Matthew Eddy (Durham University), ‘Filthy Scribble Scribble’: Children, Inscription and the Emotional Therapy of Pictures
14.30 paper dr. Arjen Dijkstra (University of Groningen), Paper tools. Teaching Mathematics with Cardboard and Glue
15.00 paper dr. Feike Dietz (Utrecht University), Skilled to Read the Book of Nature. Literacy Education in Physico-Theological Youth Literature from England and the Dutch Republic

15.30 tea break

Panel Session 2A – The Education of Professionals
chair: prof. dr. Maarten Prak (Utrecht University)
16.00 paper Ruben Schalk (MA) (Utrecht University),
Skill Formation of Dutch Adolescents: What was the Role of Craft Guilds?
16.30 paper Joas van der Schoot (MA) (University of Groningen), Christiaan Huygens’ Education (1629-1654): Prodigy and Aristocrat Panel

Panel Session 2B – Moral Literacies
chair: prof. dr. Jonathan Barry (University of Exeter)
16.00 paper Esther Atkinson (MA) (University of Toronto), Chimney Sweep Boys on the Margins- The Labouring Child as “Other” in William Sedley; or the Evil Day Deferred (c. 1783)
16.30 paper John Tholen (MA) (Utrecht University), Mythology as a Moral Compass

17.00 tea break

Plenary Session 2 – Skills Development and Human Capital
chair: prof. dr. Jonathan Barry (University of Exeter)
17.15 plenary lecture dr. Patrick Wallis (London School of Economics and Political Science),
Apprenticeship, Knowledge and Institutions: the English case

Conference diner, round table discussion


9.30 registration
    University Museum Utrecht, Lange Nieuwstraat 106, Grote Vergaderzaal

Plenary Session 3 – Manuals of Practical Knowledge
chair: prof. dr. Ann J. Adams (University of California)
10.00 plenary lecture prof. dr. Sven Dupré (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), The Youthful Hand. Teaching Bodily Techniques and Knowledge in the Early Modern Arts
11.00 plenary lecture prof. dr. Harald Hendrix (Royal Netherlands Institute Rome), Early Modern Educational Travel in Theory and Practice
11.45 plenary lecture dr. Richard Oosterhoff (Cambridge University), Discipline by Shortcuts: Handbooks for Youth in a Paris College

12.30 discussion, followed by a lunch

Panel Session 3 – Educational Programs and their Impact on Individuals
chair: prof. dr. Arnoud Visser (Utrecht University)
13.30 paper dr. Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis (University of Twente),
The Age of Bartjens. Advancing Numeracy in the Dutch Republic
14.00 paper dr. Jetze Touber (Utrecht University), Notes from the Underground: Undigested Novelties in the Mind of a Seventeenth-Century Student

14.30 tea break

Panel Session 4A – Skilled Young Authors 
chair: dr. Benjamin Roberts
15.00 paper Didi van Trijp (BA) (Utrecht University), From Stars to Stage: Young Poets in the Celestial Genre
15.30 paper Sophie Reinders (MA) (Radboud University Nijmegen), Media Creativity in Youngsters’ Networks: Old and New Texts in Alba Amicorum
16.00 paper Willemijn Zwart (BA) (Utrecht University), Young Authors as Apprentices: Leaving their Masters behind

Panel Session 4B – Art and Literature as an Informal Multimedia School
chair: prof. dr. Ann J. Adams (University of California)
15.00 paper dr. Koenraad Jonckheere (Ghent University), Art as a Question in a Culture of Question
15.30 dr. Nelleke Moser (Vrije Universiteit), Concealed Letters, Competent Readers. Trompe l’oeil books expressing Enlightenment Views on Education
16.00 paper prof. dr. Els Stronks (Utrecht University), Models of Inquisitiveness in the Visual and Textual Culture of the Low Countries

Plenary Session 5 – Teaching Religion
chair: prof. dr. Ann J. Adams (University of California)
17.00 plenary lecture prof. dr. Lee Palmer Wandel (University of Wisconsin), Teaching Children to Read Religion

18.00 drinks

For a description of the programme and additional information see: Programme
For an overview of all the abstracts see: Abstracts of the conference