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Sunday Schools and English Teaching: Re-reading Ian Hunter and the Emergence of ‘English’ in the United States

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This article represents an ‘overdue encounter’ with the ideas of Ian Hunter to reconsider the historical emergence and descent of English teaching in the United States. Influenced by Hunter’s account of the ‘pastoral’ and ‘bureaucratic’ genealogy of English teaching in England, my historical study documented continuities and discontinuities between the pedagogical archives of the nineteenth-century American Sunday school and turn of the twentieth-century English education. This analysis highlights the pastoral, scientific and bureaucratic lineage of ‘modern’ literary education in the United States and the ways that English, since its emergence, has been implicated in practices of pastoral power, discipline, biopower and governmentality. My aim is to draw attention to Hunter’s provocative ideas, lay groundwork for more comparative histories of English teaching across Anglophone countries and stimulate discussions concerning English’s cultural importance and value, dangers and normalising tendencies, and location in historically (dis)continuous networks of power and knowledge.
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Keywords: Secondary English; Sunday schools; curriculum history; pastoral power

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, TempeArizona, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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