Critics and Professors

  • Carol Atherton


In the last chapter, we saw that a number of models of English were starting to emerge from the earliest degree courses, as staff in the new university departments tried to decide what kind of academic syllabus would be most appropriate to the study of English literature. Wallace Martin has identified three distinct conceptual structures as dominating these early courses — the historical, philological and classical conceptions of literary study1 — and these structures are clearly supported by the archival research outlined in Chapter 2. The new institutions represented by King’s, Nottingham and Manchester were the home of a version of literary study that was dominated by remembered historical facts, while the early course at Oxford had been philological in content. At Cambridge, meanwhile, Quiller-Couch had promoted a version of English that emphasised the continuum between classical and modern civilisations, centring on the power of culture to communicate a humane understanding of life.


Literary Criticism Literary History Aesthetic Experience Literary Knowledge Personal Authority 
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  1. 1.
    Wallace Martin, ‘Criticism and the Academy’, in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 7: Modernism and the New Criticism, ed. A. Walton Litz, Louis Menand and Lawrence Rainey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 279.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Laurel Brake, Subjugated Knowledges: Journalism, Gender and Literature in the Nineteenth Century (London: Macmillan, 1994).Google Scholar
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    These periodicals were aimed at differing audiences and had widely differing editorial policies. The Cornhill Magazine, edited in the nineteenth century by both W. M. Thackeray and Leslie Stephen, aimed to cultivate popular taste while combining this with high-quality literary reviews. Macmillan’s Magazine, meanwhile, contained more serious articles, with contributors including the academics Adolphus William Ward (Professor of English Literature and History at Manchester), George Webbe Dasent (Professor of English Literature and Modern History at King’s College) and A. C. Bradley. Some periodicals aimed at breadth of coverage: Others sought to offer lengthy articles on a small number of topics. See Walter E. Houghton (ed.), The Wellesley Index to Victorian periodicals, 1824–1900, 5 vols. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966–1989); Sullivan, British Literary Magazines. Google Scholar
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© Carol Atherton 2005

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  • Carol Atherton

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