By Carol Atherton
Outlining the controversies that experience surrounded the educational self-discipline of English Literature seeing that its institutionalization within the overdue 19th century, this significant publication attracts on a variety of archival assets. It addresses concerns which are imperative to the identification of educational English - how the topic got here into life, and what makes it a consultant self-discipline of information - in a fashion that illuminates a number of the crises that experience affected the improvement of recent English experiences. Atherton additionally addresses modern arguments in regards to the instructing of literary feedback, together with an exam of the reforms to A-Level literature.
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Extra resources for Defining Literary Criticism: Scholarship, Authority and the Possession of Literary Knowledge, 1880–2002
His main argument was that the enormous popularity of English literature on the extension lecture circuits made it essential for Oxford and Cambridge to include it in their syllabuses, so that a new generation of teachers could be educated in preparation for the future. He was also vehemently opposed to the dryness of philology, and to the narrow, factual approach that had been adopted by the University of London exams, believing that literature’s humanising potential had been ‘pervert[ed . 40 He was keen to find a way in which the study of English literature could be made more rigorous, while avoiding the sterility of a fact-laden curriculum.
Guillory argues that the wider ‘capital’ represented by the canon is more important than the narrower sense in English in the Universities 33 which the canon is usually analysed, in which the ideological content of those texts included and excluded by the traditional canon is brought under scrutiny. For Guillory, points of change in the education system are crucial to understanding the kinds of value that are being promoted. One such point is represented by the evolution of the vernacular canon in the eighteenth century, an event that saw educationalists trying to negotiate the gap between what Raymond Williams has termed ‘residual’ and ‘emergent’ cultural formations: in this case, the classical learning of the traditional elite and the desire for an alternative vernacular education shown by the new middle classes.
While this account will focus on the differences between my chosen institutions, this does not mean that similarities did not exist. In each of the early English degrees I shall consider, there are a number of common strands. One is the appearance of a recognisable canon of authors and genres, representing not only a core body of knowledge that students were expected to master but also a certain kind of difficulty that in turn represented a particular kind of value. Another, particularly in the earliest stages of the subject’s development, is a reliance on bodies of knowledge borrowed from other disciplines, providing English with an intellectual validity that helped to rescue it from the accusations of ‘nebulousness’ that formed a major part of the opposition to the study of English literature.
Defining Literary Criticism: Scholarship, Authority and the Possession of Literary Knowledge, 1880–2002 by Carol Atherton