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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Staff

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Simon Grimble

Grimble, Simon (2017). Intellectuals and the Politics of Style. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 30(3): 245-257.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This article addresses the characteristic styles and modes of self-presentation used by such Victorian public moralists and intellectuals as William Morris, John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold in both their writing and in their appearances as public lecturers: these were all interventions that were aimed at provoking an audience into intellectual consideration and self-reflection. The article examines how questions about the style of these figures have shaped the response to their work both at the time and in the years since their deaths; thinking about why, in Raymond Williams’s words, they have produced ‘mixed feelings of respect and suspicion’. It considers how their versions of the combination of intellectual and public life could be thought about in our post-financial crisis present, at a moment when late nineteenth century debates about ‘the elites and the masses’ are re-emerging, but where also the figure of the intellectual is taking on a renewed interest as one possible point of encounter between these forces.

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