Oxford Centre for European History Special Annual Lecture 2023 - Tracing Paths: Finding Young People in the Early Modern World

Where do we find youths in the early modern world? Where did they find themselves? Often it was on the road or on the seas, in motion from home to some other place or places, and seldom entirely by choice. As we become more curious about global history and to seeing how early modern Europeans (ie., roughly 16th to 18th centuries) encountered the world and were shaped by it, we’re drawn to the intersections of this mobility with gender and with race. Much of what was new in early modern experience came first to and through young people, often as the involuntary agents of broader social and economic forces. In this lecture, I’ll focus first on a few individuals or groups of young people from different parts of the world who demonstrate some of these realities. I’ll then pull back and ask some broader questions about why it’s hard to capture and understand the experience of young people at that time, and also why looking more closely at these youths might reshape our understanding of the early modern period more generally.

Places are limited, so please confirm your attendance by emailing mailto:oceh@history.ox.ac.uk