Minority Culture and the Penguin Public

Christopher Hilliard

in English as a Vocation

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695171
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949946 | DOI:
Minority Culture and the Penguin Public

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This chapter examines the engagement of Scrutiny contributors and F. R. Leavis's pupils with wider publics. F. R. Leavis's idea of ‘minority culture’ was not simply ‘elitist’ but envisioned a chain of ever larger ‘publics’ that could be guided indirectly by a critical minority. The chapter discusses his own public interventions during the 1960s and 1970s, and contrasts them with those of his followers, who went in for the sorts of popularizing usually practised by British intellectuals in the twentieth century. The focus is on the seven-volume Pelican Guide to English Literature edited by Boris Ford, which projected Scrutiny interpretations to a mass audience. Working from the Penguin archives, the chapter charts the series's publishing history, and explores the ways the context of a survey text affected critical judgements in the Scrutiny mode.

Keywords: Penguin Books; publishing; BBC; Richard Boris Ford; Pelican Guide to English Literature; public sphere; minority culture; Charles Percy Snow; Two Cultures controversy

Chapter.  12072 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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