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Durham University

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Miss Antonia Perna, BA (Dunelm), MSt (Oxon)

Childhood, Politics and Patriotism in Revolutionary France, 1789–99 in the Department of History

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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. To this end, it considers how politics was presented to them in their schoolbooks and children’s literature, and explores their public role in revolutionary festivals and political clubs and assemblies. I explore questions of juvenile political agency and identity, as well as the relationship between children and propaganda.

Since September 2020, I have been Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome, working on the project ‘Schoolbooks in Napoleonic Italy: Social Regeneration and Cultural Imperialism, 1796–1814’.

In 2019, I also undertook a placement at Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books, where I catalogued a large part of the Laura Cecil Collection. This placement was funded by AHRC Northern Bridge Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership.

Conference Papers / Invited Seminars

  • 2020: 'Juvenile Agency, Identity and Civic Engagement in Revolutionary France: Charles Nodier and the children of Besançon, 1790–94', The Long Nineteenth Century Seminar, University of Oxford, 11 November 2020.
  • 2020: ‘Les Discours publics du jeune Charles Nodier et de ses pairs : une étude de l’agentivité enfantine dans la vie politique pendant la Révolution française, 1790–94’, Se soustraire à l'empire des grands. Enfance, jeunesse et agentivité (1500-1830), Université de Lausanne, 6 November 2020.
  • 2020: 'Patriotic Giving and Republican Girlhood in Revolutionary France: The Public Speeches of Twelve-Year-Old Joséphine Fontanier, 1793–94', Joint Society for French Historical Studies Conference and George Rudé Seminar in French History and Civilisation, virtual conference, July 2020.
  • 2020: ‘Juvenile Agency and Civic Engagement in the French Revolution’, to be presented at Society for the Study of French History (SSFH) Annual Conference, University of Westminster (London), 28–30 June. [Postponed due to COVID-19]
  • 2019: '"Young as we are": Juvenile Patriotism and Identity in Revolutionary France, 1789-1794', Durham–Münster Workshop, University of Münster (WWU Münster), 2 November.
  • 2019: '"Young as we are": Juvenile Patriotism and Identity in Revolutionary France, 1789-99', International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) Congress 2019: 15th International Congress on the Enlightenment, University of Edinburgh, 19 July.
  • 2019: ‘"Cette tendre espérance de la patrie": Envisaging Youths as the Legacy of the French Revolution, 1795-1799', SSFH Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 8 July.
  • 2018: '"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', SSFH Annual Conference, University of Warwick, 9 July.
  • 2017: ‘Childhood, Family and the State in the French Revolution: The Memorialisation of Joseph Bara and Agricol Viala, 1793-4’, Society for French Studies (SFS) 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’, Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) 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’, St Chad’s College Research Forum, St Chad’s College, Durham University, 4 May.
  • 2016: ‘Child Heroes and Martyrs of the French Revolution’, Modern British and European History Graduate Research Conference, University of Oxford, 9 May.

Indicators of Esteem


  • 2016: Master of Studies in British and European History, 1500-Present, University of Oxford
  • 2014: BA in Modern Languages and History, Durham University

Teaching Commitments

  • 2017–20: Modern Times: A Cultural History of Europe, c. 1860-1960 (HIST1541)

Research Interests

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


Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Perna, A. (Forthcoming). Foreword. Symeon 10.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

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