English is a subject suitable for women and the second- and third-rate men who are to become schoolmasters.
(Professor Sanday 1893)
Because of the way in which English literature is often presented as a body of historical texts, there is a notion that English as a subject spreads back into the mists of time. English as a recognisable school subject has existed since only the beginning of the twentieth century and the category of English literature as we know it is little more than a hundred years old (Gossman 1981, p. 341). The Oxford School of English was not established until 1894 in the face of strong opposition from the Classicists as the
Task 2.1 Why English?
Before you read any further, answer this question:
Why should it be mandatory for every child in this country to study English in school as part of a core of the National Curriculum?
Either by yourself or with a partner, brainstorm all the reasons you would give for studying English. Then list your reasons in order of importance. If possible, discuss them with another student teacher/pair and be prepared to justify your list and the relative importance of your reasons. Then as you read this chapter, look for the connections between your reasons and the reasons others have given during the last hundred years.