At A Study Day on the Politics of Teaching Literature and the Teaching of Political Literature at University of Brighton

Among literary types at At A Study Day on the Politics of Teaching Literature and the Teaching of Political Literature at University of Brighton, awaiting opening address by Professor Stuart Laing. Details are here:

Already found a brochure on Online Discussion in English Studies, interesting. The HEA are very good at cross disciplinary practice!

Starts with politics by w b yeats

HOW can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here’s a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!

Differentiation between study of politics and literature. Silos, not necessarily bad thing (mentions agri-storage!)

He draws on his reflections on his life enjoyably, and it is relevant.


And on to the cannon, at the top, Shakespeare: tragadies and histories, all about power. Can we ignore the political events/

Milton, paradise Lost after the Civil war.

Drydan, Swift, William Morris, Huxley and ideals/satire and utiopias…

Awareness of imperialism, Conrad, Ragged Trousered Philanthropist

Journey’s End, Spanish Civil War… Orwell

It is pretty well impossible to miss politics, even in the cannon.

We are approaching 50 yrs after the Penguin (D H Lawrence) trial and the ‘eruption of culture into politics’.

And then identity, post colonial, gender etc

Even reached SF, cyberspace and the challenge to ‘text’ of new media. Good update!


Good aside on Media Studies – demonised, especially by the media.

But Eng Lit: everyone wants it taught, but what is it about?

What are the politics of teaching Enf Lit?

Choices of curriculum are never neutral. What books to teach? Do we want a parody of academic freedom? Each to teach their own chosen texts?

And how to teach? Are our expertises to dominate students own perspectives?

Reads about Orwell from Counter Course: A Handbook for Course Criticism, by Trevor Pateman: quite good on the dynamic: are we in awe of the text and just responding to it, or do we have a view, that we want to test against the text?

Good quote from Literature, politics and culture in postwar Britain
By Alan Sinfield – should we have ‘hem of the skirt’ reverence or engage and criticise?


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