Prosody wars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


In 1907, half of the state-funded elementary schools in Britain were celebrating Empire Day. Students hoisted and saluted the Union Jack, sang the national anthem, and were required to recite poems that illustrated "heroic duty and self-sacrifice on behalf of the nation."1 The proceedings ended with a group recitation of Kipling's "Recessional," a poem that, as Tricia Lootens has noted, had entered not only the Oxford Book of English Verse but also the hymnbook of the Church of England.2 More than just a demonstration of Edwardian patriotism, this collective performance was the culmination of Victorian and Edwardian English literary education in which the complex and contested field of English meter was seen as threatening to a healthy English curriculum. The history of English literary education is intricately bound to the history of classical education, and in no historical moment were the two more intertwined than in the early twentieth century. Though the education reforms of 1870 attempted to replace the formative power of a classical education with English as the "poor man's classics,"3 there was often a backlash against the lack of humanistic study in state-funded schools altogether and a nostalgia for the character-building effects of a classical education. These pedagogical issues permeated debates and discussion about English prosody during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMeter Matters
PublisherOhio University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780821419687
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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