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The politics of pedantry: English university education and the rhetoric of reform, 1642-1660

Brown, Simon Patrick (2015) The politics of pedantry: English university education and the rhetoric of reform, 1642-1660. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis applies the historiography of the early modern public sphere to analyze the political literature which militated for curricular and structural reform of England’s universities during the Civil War and Interregnum (1642-1660). The writers considered, who represent the breadth of the political and confessional spectra, advanced a multitude of reform schemes that variably proposed to topple Aristotle from the curricula, replace Oxford and Cambridge with local trade schools and abolish the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Alumni of these institutions led the effort to restructure the institutions but managed to garner wide popular readership amongst individuals who had no experience of university education. This thesis argues that the learned authors manipulated the increasingly popular recognition of a public sphere in order to underline the political threats which scholarly publications, generic conventions and overall “pedantry” in the universities posed to the nascent commonwealth. It further examines how divergent conceptions of the public sphere divided the reformist literature and ultimately produced a body of conflicting proposals for positive reform. This interpretation of the university reform debate thereby challenges the accepted historiography that characterizes the Interregnum as a stable and unrevolutionary episode in the history of the universities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brown, Simon Patrickspb40@pitt.eduSPB40
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGreenberg, Janellejanelleg@pitt.eduJANELLEG
Committee MemberWaldron, Jenniferjwaldron@pitt.eduJWALDRON
Committee MemberWinerock, Emilywinerock@pitt.eduWINEROCK
Committee MemberPincus,
Date: 21 April 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 April 2015
Approval Date: 21 April 2015
Submission Date: 13 April 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 84
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, England, English Civil War, Interregnum, Early Modern, Education, Public Sphere
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2015 14:59
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:27


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