Making use of words : the tangled web of language, history and the teaching of English
This thesis traces the history of the teaching of English within the state system of education in the nineteenth century through the twentieth century and the writing of a national curriculum. More specifically, it traces definitions of language upon which its teaching has been based and the theories that have informed that teaching. This history is located within the wider social context of its formation. It contends that the teaching of English within a national State system of education was made possible by the standardisation of English as the language of the newly formed nation state. Teaching English, therefore, is primarily concerned with teaching language and through the texts it uses with teaching particular versions of society. It is divided into two parts. The first part considers formations of English and definitions of language from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the nineteen eighties. It describes the language theory that informed the teaching of language and their change from a prescriptive to descriptive basis. The second part of the thesis considers in more detail the writing of a national curriculum for English and the theories of language upon which the original curriculum and subsequent revisions drew. It ends by proposing a formation of English informed by contemporary language theory and the subject of stylistics centred upon the writing and study of 'text' as defined by the printed word.