Exercising the Student Body

in Masters of Theory

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780226873749
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226873763 | DOI:
Exercising the Student Body

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This chapter explores the relationship between training in the coaching room and on the playing field in order to reveal a new economy of the student mind and body that became definitive of mathematical study in early Victorian Cambridge. It discusses the relationship between mathematics and the ideals of a liberal education, and explains how these ideals enjoined students both to study extremely hard and to compete fiercely with their peers. This change in undergraduate life, described by contemporaries as an effective industrialization of the learning process, helped to drive the increase in technical performance that took place during the 1830s and 1840s, but it was not accomplished without cost. Undergraduates privately railed, though never publicly rebelled, against a system that incited them to study to the point of emotional and intellectual breakdown. The combined pursuits of mathematics and sport had become constitutive of the liberal education through which good undergraduate character was formed.

Keywords: economy; liberal education; technical performance; mathematics; training

Chapter.  19813 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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