Intellectual Philanthropy: The Seduction of the Masses
I am pleased to see that Aurelie Vialette’s Intellectual Philanthropy: The Seduction of the Masses is out and available from Purdue UP. It is a comprehensive exploration of programs employed by 19th century Spanish bourgeois intellectuals and industrialists to manage anxieties (to be euphemistic) arising from several subgroups of the working classes. Variously cynical and well-intentioned, the programs rose from an unease with the growing presence, after migration from agricultural to industrial employment, of working class people in urban spaces. Many involved the organization of public presence through the creation of working class choruses and educational opportunities provided in the guise of improvement and recreation, but of course having the effect of patronizing domestication of what the bourgeois perceived as a less than civilized culture. Many other programs dedicated themselves to teaching working class women the ideals of the Angel del hogar, or the Spanish version of Victorian middle-class, domesticated womanhood. The work acts almost like a neural stain illuminating the elitism (and elitism as inextricable from sexism) informing social policies both in 19th century Spain and contemporary US. Once again academic editing turned more than professional and became a fulfilling read.