|• What is politics, and what does English have to do with it?|
|• How do different critical attitudes approach the issue of literature and politics?|
|• Why has English been a political battleground?|
There has always been more to English than acquiring basic skills. In a book called Bringing English to Order (1990), Ivor Goodson and Peter Medway argue that ‘English has been the means through which powerful groups, especially governments, have sought to achieve ends which were…not neutrally “educational”’. They picture English as a ‘battleground’ where ‘groups with agendas’ clash. English as a subject has always been involved in political debates.
But what does politics mean in this context? Usually, when conversations turn to ‘politics’ they tend to be about the parties in power, the most recent or upcoming elections or the personal qualities of people whose job it is to be politicians. But politics is really about much more than that: the word comes from the ancient Greek word polis, meaning ‘city’, which hangs on in words like ‘metropolitan’,