Head, heart, and hand : the Huguenot Seminary and College and the construction of middle class Afrikaner femininity, 1873-1910
Thesis (MA (History))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
This thesis investigates the production of different forms of Afrikaner ‘femininity’ at the Huguenot Seminary and College in Wellington, between 1873 and 1910. Founded by Andrew Murray, the moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), specifically to train Dutch-Afrikaner girls as teachers and missionaries, the school was based on a model of women’s education developed at the Mount Holyoke Seminary in Connecticut and the majority of the teachers who worked at Huguenot until the 1920s were thus American-born and trained. The Huguenot Seminary proved to be an enormous success: it was constantly in need of extra room to house its overflow of pupils, the girls came near the top of the Colony’s teaching examinations from 1875 onwards, and its associated College – founded in 1898 – was one of the first institutions in South Africa where young women could study for university degrees. It had a profound impact on the lives of a considerable proportion of white, bourgeois Dutch-Afrikaner – and English-speaking – women during this period of rapid and wide-ranging transformation in South African society and politics. This thesis evaluates the extent to and manner in which Huguenot created particular Afrikaner ‘femininities’. The discussion begins with an exploration of the relationship between the Seminary, the Mount Holyoke system of girls’ education, and the DRC’s evangelicalism during the religious ‘revivals’ sweeping the Cape Colony in 1874-1875 and 1884-1885, paying particular attention to the teachers’ attempts to foster a quasi-religious community at the Seminary, and to the pupils’ responses to the school’s intense religiosity. It moves on to a discussion of the discourses surrounding the ideal of the educated woman that arose in the Seminary and College’s annuals between 1895 and 1910, identifying three key forms of ‘femininity’ promoted in magazines’ articles, short stories, and poetry. Finally, the thesis examines the impact of the growth of an Afrikaner ethnicity (specifically in the form of the First Afrikaans Language Movement), the South African War (1899-1902), and Alfred Milner’s South Africanism, on the ‘femininity’ espoused by the Seminary and College between 1874 and 1910.