Leavis, F. R.
From 1930 through the 1970s, Frank Raymond Leavis (1895 – 1978) was a towering influence in the formation of English studies as a university discipline in England. His impact lay as much in his undertaking a fundamental revaluation of the prevailing canon of English, and the terms by which he understood its fundamental relation to the broader language and culture, as in the specific judgments he made. Through his teaching and writing while at Cambridge, he had a profound impact on generations of students (“Leavisites”), who continued with his missionary zeal to establish the cultural centrality of English as an academic discipline and to transform the teaching of it in schools throughout Britain and in English-speaking countries throughout the world. His rhetorical style was famously authoritative and his judgments of works (and other critics) often iconoclastic and acerbic, but his primary aim was the pedagogic one of creating, by example, a “collaborative community” of “common readers” who shared his foundational vision of (re)creating English literature as the carrier, through its language, of a collective historically grounded national culture. Leavis was born on July 14, 1895 in Cambridge, of parents who, coming a generation before from rural East Anglia, had established a musical instrument business situated just opposite Downing College, Cambridge. From his first appointment ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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