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By Marcus Morgan, Patrick Baert (auth.)

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Extra resources for Conflict in the Academy: A Study in the Sociology of Intellectuals

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The charge is hard to resist’, he wrote (1943: 33). Too much pluralism, too quickly, could be understood as undermining the discipline’s recently won status. Christopher Ball, an English don at Oxford, wrote at the time that the fears produced through the accommodation of ‘theory’ in English studies might have in fact concealed a deeper anxiety common to all relatively young disciplines: ‘the possibility that the subject is not really an academic discipline at all’ (Ball, 1981: 136). As Wyn Grant has noted in reference to the history of the discipline of Political Science in the United Kingdom, ‘intellectual openness and tolerance of eclecticism has its merits, but if it is allowed to become too uncontrolled it can lead to a lack of rigour in the deployment of methodologies and techniques, which undermines the systematic comparison that the subject has to offer if it is to be distinguished from polemic or idle speculation’ (2010: 24).

In spite of this late start, after the Great War it began to develop very rapidly, eclipsing the Classics as the central humanities discipline, with the Cambridge School, characterised by its critical and analytical approach (in distinction to Oxford’s philological and scholarly one) playing a central role. The influential, zealous, bolshie, and highly opinionated F. R. 5 The influence of Leavis, and his wife, on the manner in which the Cambridge English School developed far exceeded, however, the institutional recognition that the university offered to either of them.

Like all words that end in the suffix -ism it has no ascertained meaning – always excepting ‘prism’, and perhaps ‘schism’, for the sake of its usefulness in discussing the English faculty though, I am glad to learn that there is no schism here ... I can for example, say quite grammatically, and what matters more, truthfully, that not all members of the Faculty of English are brushed with the same tar. If you see one or other of them smeared with a gooey black substance, you should not assume that he has rubbed against some structure or structuralist.

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