Interdisciplinary Education in Nineteenth-Century Literature (1 April 2009)

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Kate Ashley
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Reminder: "The Paradise of the Learned": Interdisciplinary Education in Nineteenth-Century Literature

'The remark was sufficient to withdraw Jude's attention from the imaginative world he had lately inhabited, in which an abstract figure ... was steeping his mind in a sublimation of the arts and sciences, and making his calling and election sure to a seat in the paradise of the learned' (Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure).

The nineteenth century marks a turning point in the history of education. The birth of so-called universal schooling and the advent of new universities broadened participation, changed the curriculum, and became a topic of literary exploration. As seen in works as diverse as The Professor, Middlemarch, Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby, Louis Lambert, and Bouvard et Pécuchet, the fiction of the time is full of portrayals of schools, students, teachers, universities, scholars, and the quest for intellectual illumination. The nineteenth century also marks a turning point in the history of the disciplines: the arts, humanities and sciences, hitherto joined, began to separate and be re-evaluated amidst debates on democracy and access to education, as utilitarianism became an educational criterion.

The proposed volume intends to explore representations of education in nineteenth-century British and European literature, with a particular emphasis on questions of interdisciplinarity. Questions that might be asked include: How are the disciplines represented in nineteenth-century literature, and how is education conceptualized? What value is placed on the various disciplines? What is the relationship between the arts, the humanities and the sciences in the literature of the period? In what ways did literary representations of the disciplines change over the course of the century, from country to country, genre to genre, author to author? What constitutes the 'paradise of the learned' in nineteenth-century literature? Chapters may deal with individual works / authors or with comparative studies or national traditions. Abstracts of 300-400 words, together with a brief biography, should be sent to Dr. Kate Ashley ( by 1 April 2009.