The term “toilet” conveys different meanings; it may be seen as an isolated place or a public service, a secluded and dirty area or a symbol of civilisation and progress. In the film The Phantom of Liberty (1974), Luis Buñuel presented a formally dressed social group gathering over a meal in toilets around a table, with the eating of food being presented as a private function. In this way he challenged moral and societal standards acquired in the long “civilizing process”, to quote Norbert Elias (Norbert Elias, Über den Prozess der Zivilisation: soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen [Basel: Verlag: Haus Zum Palken, 1939]), demonstrating the toilet’s association with bodily functions and manners but also concomitant with social and sexual behaviour, shame, and repugnance. This article explores conceptual issues regarding the toilet as a key sanitary feature of the school environment, and intersecting aspects of physical and moral education in its pedagogical role. It draws on a select range of primary sources dating between 1827 and 2019, with critical perspectives on their interpretation. Sources are primarily administrative or discursive commentary for the earlier period, but include personal memory, and literary and cinematic representation for more recent times. Rather than presenting a narrative of progression, this collection of sources provokes questions of meaning and significance of toilets in school, mostly in Italy but with some comparative references. It seeks to engage with both an educational “hygienic turn” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the processes of mass education associated with the acquisition of good manners. The toilet is considered in its transversal connotation (temporal as much as spatial) connected with ideas of rest and privacy. Reflecting the physical, conceptual and educational place of the school toilet in history of education, it touches on hygiene and well-being of pupils, the control of (their) bodies, and the modernisation of school buildings.
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|Titolo:||Civilisation and the Italian School Toilet: Insights for the Cultural History of Education|
PRUNERI, Fabio (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|