Change is something that is inevitable. More than accepting something, people tend to oppose it more because of the mindset of the people. Nobody wants to step out of their comfort zone as long as it is helping them.

The English language is one such thing that underwent changes over the period of time. In the early 19th century, England was a “Church of England monopoly.” There were only two universities namely Cambridge where English was taught from 1911 and Oxford where English was taught from 1894. Education in the early 19th century was provided to men that too those who belonged to the Anglican community. The teachers were ordained ministers who had to be unmarried. The subjects taught were Greek and Latin classics, mathematics and divinity. Catholics, Jewish or Methodist were strictly not allowed to receive education. Therefore, they did not receive any employment in turn either.

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Oxford University

 

To question why people were afraid to bring about this change was that the aristocrats or those in power believed that the spread of education will make others to question and fight against the dominant ideology.

However, there were reforms to change these restrictive orders but they used to fail until in 1826 when a University College was founded in London with a charter to award degrees to men and women of all religions or none. Since then English was considered as a subject. There was more extensive use of the study of English language while literature was a source of linguistic examples.

F.D. Maurice, Professor at King’s understood literature as a strange property of the middle class people which helps in the expression of their values.

English literature was seen as a substitution for religion. It was seen that the condition of the lower class people were not supported by the Church and hence they will believe that they do not have any chance in this country or any religion to teach them the moral values. This in turn creates rebels.

Next comes the separation between language and literature. Early advocates wanted this so that both the subjects can be done without each other.

The matter of the subject was questioned time and again. It was stripped away from its language studies, historical considerations and philosophical questions, which form the basic of the language. Studying literature without these factors look odd. However, some critics believe that these factors were not that important in the study of the subject.

Even though a lot of scholars put their effort like I.A Richards, William Empson and F.R. Leavis and a lot of thought and consideration went into this subject, we see the subject the way it is originally seen today.

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