This essay examines the contribution of the Shelley Society to the rise of English studies in the late nineteenth century. It reconstructs what “studying English literature” signified outside the university at the time, offering a parallel history to the well-documented institutional account of the evolution of English studies. This essay builds and tests the theory that literary societies were agents for disseminating not only literature but scholarly practice, spreading productive debate about curricula, relevance, and the public benefit of literature over the English-speaking world. It also explores how literary societies publicly negotiated the controversial conception of English literature as a legitimate subject for scholarly pursuit, how they built the case for vernacular literature’s capacity to be studied “scientifically,” and how they then exported these ideas—and texts—across the globe.
Skip Nav Destination
June 1, 2014
Leigh Dale Jennifer McDonell Marshall Brown
Research Article| June 01 2014
The Shelley Society, Literary Lectures, and the Global Circulation of English Literature and Scholarly Practice
Modern Language Quarterly (2014) 75 (2): 279–296.
Angela Dunstan; The Shelley Society, Literary Lectures, and the Global Circulation of English Literature and Scholarly Practice. Modern Language Quarterly 1 June 2014; 75 (2): 279–296. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-2416635
Download citation file:
Don't already have an account? Register
You could not be signed in. Please check your email address / username and password and try again.
Could not validate captcha. Please try again.
Sign in via your InstitutionSign In