Volume 34 Number 2

Pauline Fletcher and Patrick Scott (Eds.)

Culture and Education in Victorian England

232 pages
ISBN 0838751970
Bucknell Review

Matthew Arnold, Victorian sage, critic, and poet, saw the attainment of culture through proper education as a solution to the problems of his age. Modern critics, as represented in this volume, are likely to be more skeptical. They share Arnold's belief that culture and education are powerful instruments for transmitting values, but they do not always see that power as benign. Exploring the issues form a variety of disciplinary perspectives, they show how art, literature, the British Museum, and formal education could all be used to inculcate the values of the ruling class. At the same time, however, certain trends tended to subvert attempts to impose a monolithic cultural authority; the spread of literacy and the increasing power of industrialism resulted in the creation, by the end of the century, of a diverse and complex society that challenged the assumptions of cultural elitism. These and other challenges faced by Victorian educators remain a part of our own cultural landscape, as many of the contributors to this volume point out. Michael Timko considers the nineteenth-century connotations of the words culture and education with particular reference to the life and writings of Thomas Carlyle. Marc Demarest shows how language and metaphor in Arnold's Culture and Anarchy define and codify culture as a social totality, while Judith Stoddart examines John Ruskin as the forerunner of such architects of cultural authority as Alan Bloom. Patrick Brantlinger explores the relationship between crime and education in Victorian England, using Oliver Twist as his starting point. Ina Hark studies the use of Jewish cultural stereotypes by Edward Lear. The role of literature in the process of socializing children is examined in essays by John Reed and Beverly Clark. Alison Byerly discusses contradictory impulses in Victorian culture in her examination of the practice of reading aloud in the schoolroom, the domestic circle, and on the public stage. The deeply felt connection between art and instruction is demonstrated by Leslie Williams through an analysis of Victorian genre paintings. In his study of schools in a Lincolnshire village, Michael Gray-Fow reveals the degree of patronage exercised by the Wragby squires during the nineteenth century and shows how they adapted to a decline of their seigneurial authority. Myron Tuman draws some interesting parallels between the present-day use of graduate teaching assistants and peer tutors and the nineteenth-century adoption of student monitors and pupil teachers. Linda Peterson shows how Harriet Martineau, in her feminist revision of Hannah Moore's views of female education, defines the home as the most important sphere of education for both sexes. Popular education also took place through the British Museum and its guidebooks, which, Inderpal Grewal argues, enshrined the concepts of aristocratic patronage and imperial power. Patrick Scott's reexamination of the Newbolt Report forms a fitting conclusion to this selection of essays, since he addresses many of the concerns and issues raised by other contributors.

Contributors: Michael Timko, Marc Demarest, Judith Stoddart, Patrick brantlinger, Ina Rae Hark, John R. Reed, Beverly Lyon Clark, Alison Byerly, Leslie Williams, Michael J. G. Gray-Fow, Myron Tuman, Linda H. Peterson, Inderpal Grewal, and Patrick Scott.

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