Philosophy Social Aspects

Culture and Government: The Emergence of Literary Education by Ian Hunter

By Ian Hunter

Since the Romantics tradition has been pointed out with the promise of a whole improvement of human capacities and, in most cases, the 'rise of English' has been seen when it comes to the (true or distorted) fulfilment of this promise within the schooling procedure. This e-book provides a sustained and traditionally proficient problem to that view.

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Extra resources for Culture and Government: The Emergence of Literary Education

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In fact they are the outcome of it. Of the two strategies through which modem criticism attempts to comprehend its birth - the one which would incorporate literary theory into the 'close reading of literature' by treating theory as an abstraction from an unsurpassable aesthetic experience; and the one which would subordinate practical criticism to literary theory by treating the former as the spontaneous expression of a 'pre-theoretical' experience - neither allows us to understand how the two imperatives of modem criticism found their object.

But neither can it be that moment in which the subject of criticism suspends its 'pre-theoretical' perceptions and achieves a theoretical awareness of their 30 Introduction unthought conditions. For these reasons, our own account will not attempt to reconcile didacticism and formalism (which have no special privilege in it); nor will it take the form of an exemplary break with criticism's pre-theoretical past through a recovery of its (linguistic, psychological or social) 'unconscious'. Instead, here the object of our description will be those contingent historical circumstances in which the dual imperatives of the Romantic aesthetic and the human sciences found their object - the object of modem criticism - in the educable individual presented to them by the pedagogical apparatus.

While the second finds an equally absolute horizon in that moment in which criticism breaks with the 'pre-theoretical' experience of literature and recovers its abstract or unconscious conditions of possibility. It will be shown, however, that the two untranscendable horizons thus proposed - the 'poem itself' and its theoretical unconscious - are in fact themselves the artefacts of two quite local and contingent imperatives deployed as pedagogical norms. We shall argue in Chapter 5 that they are artefacts of the imperative to reconcile an ethical imbalance and thereby construct a self capable of moral action; and the imperative to recover for consciousness that which makes it possible while escaping it.

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