Modelling the public intellectual : the case of Matthew Arnold
McLeod, Tenielle Robyn
My thesis is titled “Modeling the Public Intellectual: The Case of Matthew Arnold.” Matthew Arnold, arguably “the most influential critic of his age” (Trilling 190) has also proven to be an influential model for the public intellectual currently in Canada and elsewhere. The role and work of public intellectuals is complex and who or what they are is the topic of vigorous debate and sometimes extreme disagreement. Because Arnold is so influential and controversial as a literary and social critic, I want to develop and to communicate a better understanding of his achievements and to explore the connection between his work and the role of the public intellectual. To that end, I draw on three of his works, “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” (1864), Culture and Anarchy (1869) and Literature and Dogma (1873). In the course of a decade, Arnold asserts and expands the role of criticism in society and the kinds of issues a poet, critic, and inspector of schools feels competent to address while defining his own personal version of “the Victorian Sage” (Holloway). I also want to explore why criticism produced in the nineteenth century, particularly in Arnold’s work, promotes the figure and activities of the public intellectual. Moreover, I will reaffirm, via Arnold’s example, the importance of the relationship between literature and life and show how this connection nourishes the idea of the public intellectual in the English-speaking world.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorFindlay, Leonard M. (Len)
CommitteeJames-Cavan, Kathleen; Woodhouse, Howard