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The mortification of the flesh and the desire exposed: control over girls in Catholic institutions

In an attempt to understand the genesis of the education dedicated specifically to women, I analyze a textbook called Manual de piedade da donzela cristã (Manual of piety of the Christian maiden), which was used in boarding schools and convents for girls, in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My purpose is to describe, in part, based on a Foucauldian analysis, one of the forms of constitution of the ways of being feminine in contemporary times, reflecting historically about the development of a knowledge-power over women. I propose to recover what had traditionally been the organizer of Catholic institutions for girls, i.e., their peculiar modes of standardization and maintenance of the populations of girls and women according to the Christian disciplinarian mode, as one of the paradigms of the female subject. Thus, the episteme and moral specific of women was formed, with equal participation of Catholic theology and other fields of knowledge, joining the normative demands of the post-revolutionary period of the 1800s in the production of a productive feminine - transplanted to the figures of the good mother, loving wife and obedient worker, or what could determine the woman socially controlled and promoter of the modern nuclear family. My thesis is precisely that the formation of the contemporary female subject has broad participation of ecclesial instructions. To defend it, I shall analyze that manual, which will be considered a window that opens to an investigative perspective of the everyday life of girls in denominational schools and monasteries.

History of education; Textbooks; Gender and Education; Foucauldian archaeological methodology


Faculdade de Educação da Universidade de São Paulo Av. da Universidade, 308 - Biblioteca, 1º andar 05508-040 - São Paulo SP Brasil, Tel./Fax.: (55 11) 30913520 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: revedu@usp.br