Friday, July 10, 2009
'The Rise of English
'Construction of English'
Notes composed by: Nidhi V Krishna
1st MA Lecture, 8th June, 2009
Up until the 14th Century, the Feudal class possessed utmost power as the population engaged solely in primary sector economic activities such as agriculture, mining and animal husbandry. However, the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1450s brought about the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial revolution influenced the emergence of English.
The Industrial Revolution, transformed the cities into urban centers, raised the standard of living and exhilarated the emergence of urban spaces. The secondary sector, now, occupied a dominant position. The operation of the manufacturing units required extensive labor. The advent of the manufacturing industry led to the creation of several job opportunities. Besides foremen, clerks, book keepers, store keepers etc., were employed.
Eventually, Industrial capitalization created a clear demarcation between the feudal class and the working class. It made the lives of the working class strenuous and mechanical. The oppressed working class chose to break away from the shackles of the feudal class. Colonization fuelled the rebellion and gave momentum to the Romantics. The Romantics assumed the role of political activists. The writers used Journalism and Literature as the ‘medium of telling’. Journalism sought to reproduce stories in a refreshingly new manner whereas Literature used the ‘novel’ as device to transform society.
Due to this defiance, the Feudal class started losing ultimate power, and hence took recourse in literature. They used Literature as a tool to consolidate their power. Literature was introduced in the Mechanics Institutes to instill moral values into the intellectually deprived working class. In universities, women were excluded from disciplines such as science and other professions. Therefore they had to resort to English.
During this era, imperialism took centre stage. The value system was pushed among the intellectuals. The imperialists used Literature, predominantly tragedies, to consolidate the working class, so that the separate parts of the British Empire that were falling apart could be secured as a single state.
English Literature was then, threatened by German Literature when everyone in England began relishing the contents of the latter. In an effort to contain English Language and English Literature, the totalitarian strategy was adopted. The military took upon itself, the responsibility of preserving and promoting English by reviving national pride among the masses.