A radical egalitarian vision of the transatlantic, creole roots of American public education

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction:  Practicing History
Chapter One:  Transatlantic Educational Spaces:  Remapping the Word and the World
Chapter Two:  Counter-Enlightenment Pedagogical Ruptures: The Ursulines in Colonial Louisiana
Chapter Three:  Remapping the “Unthinkable:” The Haitian Revolution, White Citizenship, and the Common School Movement
Chapter Four:  A Curriculum of Imagination:  Counter-Public Spaces in the Age of Segregation, 1841-1868
Chapter Five:  The New Orleans Tribune and The Crusader:  Interracial Community-Based Texts


Reimagining the Educated Citizen contends that the constructs of public education and citizenship in the struggle to constitute a U.S. national identity are inseparable from the simultaneous emergence of transatlantic constructs of an educated citizen along transnational and transracial lines. The nineteenth century is commonly understood as the age of nationalism and nation formation in which the Anglo-Protestant Common School movement takes center stage in the production of the American democratic citizen. Ironically, the argument for public, Common Schools privileged whiteness instead of equality. This book suggests that an alternative vision of the relationship between education and citizenship emerged from a larger transatlantic history. Given shape by the movement of people, ideas, commodities, and practices across the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Valley, this radical egalitarian vision emerged at the crossroads of the Atlantic-colonial and antebellum Louisiana.

Petra Munro Hendry is Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University.

“Digging deeply into sources across centuries of time and mobilizing an impressive array of disciplines, Petra Munro Hendry not only recovers the early history of education in Louisiana from obscurity but discovers a profound and timely meaning in it. From richly detailed and compelling stories told about a diverse cast of people, readers learn up-close how they built intercultural public spaces through a transatlantic circuit of pedagogy that consistently challenged exclusionary constructs of empire and nation-state. Reimagining the Educated Citizen does nothing less than chart a much-needed alternative pathway for understanding the history of education in the United States.”

- Daniel H. Usner, Holland N. McTyeire Professor of History, Vanderbilt University

"Reimagining the Educated Citizen is a must read. It masterfully illustrates the continued movement and creolization of people in the transatlantic world and unequivocally demonstrates the centrality education played, as both a tool of freedom and oppression, amid this mass movement and struggle to define what it meant to be enlightened, equal, worthy, and free."

- Christopher Span, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Reimagining the Educated Citizen offers a new perspective on the history of education within the transatlantic world, using New Orleans as the point of intersection for indigenous, African, European, and ultimately Afro Creole people. . . . Hendry is clearly attuned to the gendered and racial dimensions of the story she is telling. With a focus on New Orleans, the experiences of both dominant and underrepresented groups inhabit this fascinating narrative.”

- Mary Niall Mitchell, University of New Orleans

"This book develops an original perspective that seeks to disrupt the traditional US narrative of the prevalence of the Common School Movement in furthering universal education and shaping citizenship. . . . The argument is extremely innovative and convincing, the book painstakingly researched and thoroughly documented. It is well-written and very pleasant to read."

- Nathalie Dessens, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Winner: 2023 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division B: Curriculum Studies Outstanding Book Award | 02/12/2024