Defining Literary Criticism: Scholarship, Authority and the by Carol Atherton

By Carol Atherton

Outlining the controversies that experience surrounded the educational self-discipline of English Literature when you consider that its institutionalization within the overdue 19th century, this crucial e-book attracts on a number of archival assets. It addresses concerns which are crucial to the id of educational English - how the topic got here into lifestyles, and what makes it a expert self-discipline of data - in a fashion that illuminates a number of the crises that experience affected the improvement of contemporary English experiences. Atherton additionally addresses modern arguments concerning the educating of literary feedback, together with an exam of the reforms to A-Level literature.

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Extra info for Defining Literary Criticism: Scholarship, Authority and the Possession of Literary Knowledge, 1880-2002

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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. 29 Guillory’s analysis focuses on a much earlier period than the one considered here, but raises ideas that are relevant to the development of English in the universities.

In spite of the weight of the opposition to English, and the derision heaped on Collins for his continuing espousal of literature’s case, it was not long before Oxford finally gained its English degree. 51 At the same time, discussions were taking place in Oxford about the foundation of an Honour School of Modern Languages and Literature in which English was to be one option. 53 Significantly, the case this petition made was pragmatic rather than intellectual, and echoed a central tenet of Collins’s arguments, pointing to the ‘increasing stress’ on English elsewhere in the education system.

It is useful at this point to consider the analysis of canon-formation carried out by John Guillory. 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.

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