Historicising English pedagogy: The extension and transformation of 'the cure of souls'

Jory Brass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This paper historicises familiar assertions that English is qualitatively different from other school subjects to highlight historical commitments and sociopolitical effects of English teaching that are often obscured in contemporary pedagogical writing. It juxtaposes three different pedagogical literatures across the nineteenth, twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to illustrate how English teaching has been - and largely remains - linked in important ways with pastoral Christianity, the social sciences, and a range of governmental objectives of 'modern', welfare states. The paper denaturalises contemporary pedagogical distinctions and practices by highlighting how they largely reiterate pastoral logics and disciplines of nineteenth-century Sunday school pedagogy. In addition, it examines historical continuities and discontinuities that sensitise us to the (un)changing ways in which English pedagogy has been implicated in practices of social regulation, productive power, and larger struggles over telling the 'truth' about one's self, others, and the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-172
Number of pages20
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cure of souls
  • Curriculum history
  • English teaching
  • Literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education


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