Doing English today
|• Why did English change? |
|• What do these changes mean? |
|• What is ‘literary theory’? |
|• What does this mean for you, doing English? |
In the last twenty years or so, there has been a revolution in English studies: teachers and students have challenged the ‘traditional’ approach to English and argued that there are other important ways of reading and studying literature. These new ways of reading are lumped together, perhaps rather unhappily, in the term ‘literary theory’. But why have these changes taken place?
Changing world-views, changing English
English has been linked to the view that people need to be ‘civilised’ and provided with values through the study of literature. Looking at the development of English in Chapter 1, it is clear that this idea was intended, subtly but firmly, to force people into a single mould of ‘civilised Englishness’. However, the world in which we live now is not the same as the world inhabited by the Leavises and others who shaped the subject. Where the founders of English wanted people to