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Textbooks throughout the world

Printed matter knows no frontier. From its country of origin, it is distributed everywhere: sold, reproduced, adapted, translated, with or without permission of the publisher. Some literary genders, such as fiction works, are more favorable to that type whereas, for example, railroads schedules, do not favor it.

One could think that education, being essentially a national task, should have avoided globalization. One would then forget the colonial expansion of European powerful countries, especially from the 18th century on, and which has contributed in the reproduction of the metropolis structures in the conquered territories and has transplanted, consequently, the European educational systems. Therefore, textbooks "traveled". The first book printed in Quebec, Le catéchisme du diocèse de Sens, was the reproduction of a previous edition, as the title clearly indicates. In the same way, the very first manual printed for the new anglo quebecers in 1778, An Abstract of the Douay catechism, clearly proves the metropolitan double origin.

Colonialism in its various aspect politics, ideology, economics strategically used the structures experimented in the Metropolis, most particularly in the churches, to frame the education. Just think of the British Society for the propagation of the Gospel. France, on its part, could depend upon an important allied: the religious communities who amplified its expansionist effort and brought into their luggage their objectives supporting more or less, or more or less consciously, the textbooks they composed in the metropolis. That opens a wide field of research about the cultural transfers favored by the export of textbooks.

Concerning foreign influences in the use of "classics" the word meaning "textbooks" such as currently used in the 19th Century ,Quebec is an only case: two European countries have poured down on it their pedagogical productions, first France and then England. The present work intends to start a catalogue of the productions of the foreign publishers which have, or had, their head office out of the country and which have also published textbooks in Quebec. It aims at starting a research on the foreign origins of our textbooks by stating the filiations and allowing an analysis of the similarities and variations in the texts and illustrations. We start with the making of a collective catalogue of the pedagogical production of the Christian Brothers, eventually hoping to extend our project to other publishers, lay or religious.

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