English as a Vocation: The Scrutiny Movement

Hardcover | July 15, 2012

byChristopher Hilliard

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English as a Vocation is a history of the most influential movement in modern British literary criticism. F. R. Leavis and his collaborators on the Cambridge journal Scrutiny in the 1920s and 1930s demonstrated compelling ways of reading modernist poetry, Shakespeare, and the "texts" ofadvertising. Crucially, they offered a way of teaching critical 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 transformed Scrutinyapproaches 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 on Scrutiny's interpretation ofmodern 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 the Scrutiny tradition. This is the first book to examine major figures such as these alongside the hundreds ofother 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 inmodern times?

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English as a Vocation is a history of the most influential movement in modern British literary criticism. F. R. Leavis and his collaborators on the Cambridge journal Scrutiny in the 1920s and 1930s demonstrated compelling ways of reading modernist poetry, Shakespeare, and the "texts" ofadvertising. Crucially, they offered a way of teac...

Christopher Hilliard grew up in New Zealand and studied English and history at the University of Auckland. He then moved to the United States and completed a PhD at Harvard University. Since 2004 he has taught in the history department at the University of Sydney, where he is currently an associate professor. His research criss-crosses...

other books by Christopher Hilliard

Format:HardcoverDimensions:328 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.1 inPublished:July 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199695172

ISBN - 13:9780199695171

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Pledged Intelligence1. How to Teach Reading2. Culture and Environment3. Origins and Destinations4. Will Teachers Bear Scrutiny?5. Adult Education and "Left-Leavisism"6. Discrimination and the Popular Arts7. Minority Culture and the Penguin Public8. Scrutiny's EmpireConclusion: The Project of ScrutinyAppendix: Schools and Fathers' Occupations of Downing College Undergraduates Reading English, 1932-1962References