English as a Vocation The 'Scrutiny' Movement

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-07-26
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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English as a Vocationis a history of the most influential movement in modern British literary criticism. F. R. Leavis and his collaborators on the Cambridge journalScrutinyfrom the 1930s to the 1950s demonstrated compelling ways of reading modernist poetry, Shakespeare, and the 'texts' of advertising. Crucially, they offered a way ofteachingcritical reading, an approach that could be adapted for schools and adult education classes, modelled in radio talks and paperback guides to English Literature, and taken up in universities as far afield as Colombo and Sydney. This book shows how a small critical school turned into a movement with an international reach. It tracks down Leavis's students, analysing the pattern of their social origins and subsequent careers in the context of twentieth-century social change. It shows how teachers transformedScrutinyapproaches as they tried to put them into practice in grammar and secondary modern schools. And it explores the complex, even contradictory politics of the movement. Champions of creative writing and enemies of 'progressive' education alike based their arguments onScrutiny's interpretation of modern culture. 'Left-Leavisites' such as Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart, and Stuart Hall wrought influential interpretations of social class and popular culture out of arguments with theScrutinytradition. This is the first book to examine major figures such as these alongside the hundreds of other teachers and writers in the movement whose names are obscure but who wrestled with the same challenges: how do you approach a baffling poem? How do you uncover what an advertisement is trying to do? How can literature inform our everyday experiences and judgements? What does 'culture' mean in modern times?

Author Biography

Christopher Hilliard is Associate Professor of History, University of Sydney.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations Used in the Notesp. xiii
Introduction: Pledged Intelligencep. 1
How to Teach Readingp. 19
Culture and Environmentp. 46
Origins and Destinationsp. 72
Will Teachers Bear Scrutiny?p. 109
Adult Education and 'Left-Leavisism'p. 142
Discrimination and the Popular Artsp. 171
Minority Culture and the Penguin Publicp. 192
Scrutiny's Empirep. 217
Conclusion: The Project of Scrutinyp. 248
Appendix: Schools and Fathers' Occupations of Downing College Undergraduates Reading English, 1932-62p. 259
Referencesp. 272
Indexp. 291
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