In this innovative study Alan Richardson addresses issues in literary and educational history never examined together before. He argues that transformations in schooling and literacy in Britain between 1780 and 1832 helped shape the provision of literature as we now know it. Topics include definitions of childhood, educational methods and institutions, children's literature and female education. Richardson charts how social relations were transformed through reading and education, and Romantic texts are reinterpreted in the light of historical and social issues.
"At the conclusion of this study Richardson states that he hopes he has established 'new directions for further critical study, a larger sense of the era's richness and diversity in examples, provocations, and possibilities for reimagining educational change.' He succeeds. Each person who studies Richardson will find matter to investigate." Nineteenth-Century Literature "Comprehensive, rigorous, sophisticated, and good-humored, Literature, Education, and Romanticism is a major contribution to cultural and historicist studies of the Romantic period, and will prove indispensable to Romanticists of every critical persuasion." The Wordsworth Circle "The enabling and retarding entanglement of Romantic thought and public education is not a new story. But in Literature, Education, and Romanticism: Reading as Social Practice 1780-1832 Alan Richardson tells it with exceptional clarity and economy, refining for the book quantities of new scholarship on gender and domesticity, children's literature and colonial practice." SEL 1500-1900 "...a lucid, learned, and original narrative of these collusions. The range of reference to contemporary texts is prodigious, and theory is worn lightly; Bahktin, Foucault, Jameson, and others are not summarized by rote but are ready-to-hand for illumination. The book succeeds in its aim to establish 'a larger sense of the era's richness and diversity in examples, provocations, and possibilities for reimagining educational change.'" South Atlantic Review "...an ambitious synthesis of recent work on education and Romanticism...[Richardson] puts 'Literature' itself on trial...provides a challenging critique of power relations in educational contexts." Times Literary Supplement "Richardson's book is interesting and worthwhile." John W. Osborne, Albion "Although Richardson represents the literature of the period as endorsing a largely disciplinary and sometimes coercive vision of education, he also allows for the possibility of opposition. He does so in part by broadening the definition of Romanticism to include previously marginalized genres and writers...Richardson has provided a convincing and at times fascinating account of the relationship between education and literature in a period of "cultural revolution" (p. xiii). His book is clearly written, covers an impressive amount material and makes productive use of literary and theoretical texts. It should interest scholars of Romanticism as well as educational historians...along with anyone wishing to study the relationship between literature and history in a given period." Kate Levin, History of Reading News "Richardson's analyses of literary works are essence not ornament to his tracing of the acquisition of habits and attitudes that reshaped social expectations...superb book." ST in Romanticism