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Reading/Literacy – For the Lower Orders?

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The second part of this account of struggles over literacy begins in the later seventeenth century. From the 1670s, the new dissenting academies, backed by rising business classes, made teaching in English for a wider curriculum their goal. Thus was Defoe’s mastery of a new spoken style developed, while in Scotland, the eighteenth century achievements of the Scottish Enlightenment heralded Modern Subjects. But the labouring peasantry and new urban working classes had to wait for revolutionary tribunes like Tom Paine and Cobbett to speak directly to them. Even then their prolonged struggles for a literacy in their own terms continued – and met a new setback, when the 1870 Act promised them universal education, but in tests dominated by Payment by Results. The struggles resumed.
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Keywords: classical rhetoric; dissenting academies; literacy; payment by results; popular initiatives; tribunes of the people

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ilkley, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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