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Durham University

Department of History

Staff Profile

Miss Antonia Perna

Experiencing Childhood in Revolutionary France, 1789-99 in the Department of History

Contact Miss Antonia Perna


My thesis explores the relationship between children and the state in Revolutionary France. In a regime that emphasised equality and the people’s sovereignty, it investigates the kinds of opportunities available to children and adolescents to engage in politics and demonstrate patriotism. It also considers how politics was presented to children, both officially and by intermediaries, such as publishers, entrepreneurs, teachers and army officers. To this end, my research analyses schoolbooks, children’s literature and games, and Jacobin political society (sociétés populaires) and military records.

Conference Papers

'"L'homme est né libre: l'homme est du masculin et du singulier": Literacy and Grammar Teaching in Schoolbooks as a Vehicle for Social Change in Revolutionary France', presented at Society for the Study of French History Annual Conference, University of Warwick, 9 July 2018.

‘Childhood, Family and the State in the French Revolution: The Memorialisation of Joseph Bara and Agricol Viala, 1793-4’, presented at Society for French Studies 58th Annual Conference, Durham University, 4 July 2017.

‘Childhood, Family and the State in the French Revolution: The Memorialization of Joseph Bara and Agricol Viala, 1793-1794’, presented at Society for the History of Children and Youth Ninth Biennial Conference, Rutgers University-Camden, New Jersey, 23 June 2017.

‘“A is for Assemblée nationale”: The Politicisation of Children’s Literature and Pedagogical Books in the French Revolution’, presented at St Chad’s College Research Forum, St Chad’s College, Durham University, 4 May 2017.

‘Child Heroes and Martyrs of the French Revolution’, presented at Modern British and European History Graduate Research Conference, University of Oxford, 9 May 2016.


2016: Master of Studies in British and European History, 1500-Present, University of Oxford

2014: BA in Modern Languages and History, Durham University

Research Interests

  • Enlightenment
  • France in the long eighteenth century
  • French Revolutionary culture and society
  • History of childhood
  • Modern European cultural history

Is supervised by