Public School Literature, Civic Education and the Politics of Male Adolescence  book cover
1st Edition

Public School Literature, Civic Education and the Politics of Male Adolescence

ISBN 9781138259423
Published October 19, 2016 by Routledge
280 Pages

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Book Description

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, British society gradually began to see 'adolescence' as a distinct social entity worthy of concentrated study and debate. Jenny Holt argues that the social construction of the public schoolboy, a figure made ubiquitous by a huge body of fictional, biographical, and journalistic work, had a disproportionate role to play in the development of social perceptions of adolescence and in forming ideas of how young people should be educated to become citizens in an age of increasing democracy. With attention to an admirably wide range of popular books as well as examples from the periodical press, Jenny Holt begins with a discussion of the ideas of late-eighteenth-century social radicals, and ends with the First World War, when the more 'serious' public school literature, which sought to involve juvenile readers in complex social and political issues, declined suddenly in popularity. Along the way, Jenny Holt considers the influence of Victorian Evangelical thought, Social Darwinism, and the early-twentieth-century National Efficiency movement on concepts of adolescence. Whether it is shedding new light on well-known texts by Thomas Hughes and Rudyard Kipling, providing a fascinating discussion of works written by boys themselves, or supplying historical context for the development of the concept of adolescence, this book will engage not only scholars of childhood and children's literature but Victorianists and those interested in the history of educational practice.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The crisis of youth and the public school reformation; An education for active citizenship: Tom Brown's Schooldays; 'Beastly Erikin': nature, God and the adolescent boy; What exactly does 'moderate and reasonable' mean? Debates on discipline in Victorian public school literature; 'It's not brutality ... it's boy; only boy': public schools and adolescence at the turn of the century; The death of an ideal; Bibliography; Index.

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Jenny Holt is a lecturer in English literature at Meiji University, Japan.


’... an important addition to the literature of this genre.’ The Looking Glass ’... Holt's readings offer a welter of fresh insights into both the well-known and lesser-known texts.’ Children's Books History Society Newsletter 'Holt’s study is thoroughly researched and admirably comprehensive...' Journal of British Studies