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Title: The establishment of the London University and the socio-cultural status of English liberal education, 1825-1836
Author: Mohd Sobri, Mohd Helmi
ISNI:       0000 0004 5991 179X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores the establishment and the early years of the London University in order to provide a fresh perspective on newly emerging cultural attitudes towards traditional liberal education in the 1820s and 1830s. It begins by showing that the usual historical approach of treating liberal education as a formal or systematic discourse is limited, as it is unable to account for the challenge to liberal education before 1850s. To overcome this limitation, this thesis considers liberal education primarily as a socio-cultural phenomenon, grounded in eighteenth-century gentlemanly culture. Attitudes towards liberal education were intertwined with assumptions about status distinction, and the charisma of a gentlemanly persona. This thesis then evaluates the attitudes of the London University to liberal education, by exploring its establishment in the context of three wider socio-cultural developments of the period that contested the traditional distinction between gentlemen and non-gentlemen. These developments were the campaign for middle-class university education, the reform in the medical professions and the rise of utilitarian sensibility. It is argued that in affirming that the university was intended for the middle classes, the founders were actually framing the problem of educational need in terms of the socio-economic identification of upper, middle and lower class. In doing so, they provided a rival alternative to the traditional mode of identification based on the gentlemen/vulgar status distinction. This formulation was instrumental in legitimising the candidacy of non-gentlemen, particularly tradesmen, for university education. The incompatibility with the socio-cultural assumptions of liberal education was further reflected in the ways in which the medical school of the university aligned itself with the cause of medical reform in the period, challenging the old assumption that associated the respectability of a medical practitioner with his acquisition of a liberal education and his status as a gentleman. Furthermore, the rise of utilitarian sensibility in the 1820s, as reflected in the increasing ideological connotation carried by the word ‘utility’ in everyday discourse, provided a conducive cultural atmosphere for the supporters and members of the university to employ the useful/ornamental distinction in their writings and speeches and which served as an alternative evaluative framework to the liberal/illiberal contrast.
Supervisor: O'Flaherty, Niall Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available