Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities, and Society in England, 1830-1960

Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities, and Society in England, 1830-1960

Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities, and Society in England, 1830-1960

Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities, and Society in England, 1830-1960

Synopsis

This is the first book to give a general account of the transformation of classics in English schools and universities from being the amateur knowledge of the Victorian gentleman to that of the professional scholar, or from an elite social marker to a marginalized academic subject. The challenges to the authority of classics in 19th-century England are analyzed, as are the many and various ideological responses of its practitioners. The impact of university reform on the content and organization of classical knowledge is described in detail, with special reference to Cambridge. Chapters are devoted to the effects of state intervention, social snobbery, and democracy on the provision of classics in schools, and the dissensions within the bodies set up to defend it. The narrative runs clear up to the present, fully covering along the way the abolition of Compulsory Latin in 1960 and the absence of classics from the National Curriculum in 1988.

Excerpt

In 1947 W. H. Auden was invited to address the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity at Harvard, and chose to do so in verse. His address, published as Under Which Lyre? a Reactionary Tract for the Times, ends with a Hermetic Decalogue which includes the injunctions

Thou shalt not write thy doctor's thesis on education. Thou shalt not commit a social science.

I plead guilty on both counts, since this book originated as a doctoral thesis in sociology. the process of revision has been helped by comments made by five readers for the Press. My thanks in particular to Michael Brock for a detailed critique of evidence and interpretations, and to Frank Turner for his incisive (and decisive) remarks. I have also benefited from castigations of the original text by Ian Jackson and Paul Naiditch. the more remote origins of this book lie in a longstanding involvement with both classics and social science. From Sam Duchesne and Moses Finley I learned about learning. John Parker, who supervised the research on which this book is based, introduced me to the challenges and rewards of sociological thinking. From a host of librarians and archivists, the unsung heroes of so much academic work, I must at least sing of John Field (Westminster), James Lawson (Shrewsbury), and Elisabeth Leedham-Green (Cambridge). in the usa Bob Ackerman, Ian Jackson, and Bob Kaster, long corresponded with and now happily encountered in the flesh, have sustained my sense that the work was worth doing.

Christopher Stray

Swansea March 1997 . . .

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