Origins and Destinations

Christopher Hilliard

in English as a Vocation

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695171
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949946 | DOI:
Origins and Destinations

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This chapter provides an anatomy of the Downing English School. It reconstructs the undergraduate population from 1932 until Leavis's retirement in 1962 using archival records and establishes the social background of these students. The chapter goes on to identify the professions in which Leavis's pupils clustered and considers the connections and disconnects between their Cambridge education and their subsequent careers. The most common career choice was teaching, and significant numbers went on to become publishers, BBC staff, actors, and directors. Others made use of their training in professions alien or inimical to Leavis, such as advertising. Still others went on to careers in business or the professions. As well as being the leader of a movement, Leavis was a college teacher like other college teachers, working with undergraduates for whom literature would not be a vocation.

Keywords: Downing College; Cambridge; grammar schools; public schools; working class; social mobility; meritocracy; Education Act 1944; Peter Hall; literary journalism

Chapter.  17878 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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