Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This article is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

(names and addresses supplied) An Open Letter
This piece contains a description, from one point of view, of a certain department of English in a British university. The institution is unnamed here because the piece is intended to be part of a wider debate, and the authors do not wish to give the impression of an ad hominem attack. In order to preserve the department's identity, the authors themselves are remaining anonymous. It should not be thought that the authors are unwilling to be identified for any other reason.

This letter was written in May 1994. We were then in our second year of doctoral research in the English department at ___University. Coming from different universities, we had chosen to do our PhDs at___English department, because of its size, and because of its national, even international, reputation. Yet after only a year, we felt obliged to protest at the department's intellectual culture. We thought that this culture was hostile to the ideals which had informed our own education. In less abstract terms, we thought that the students were missing out, and being misled by shoddy but fashionable thinking.

The first three people to read our letter were senior members of staff with important departmental responsibilities. We were anxious to be as open as possible in our comments, and asked them to forward the letter to the Academic Committee. In private, all three expressed a degree of sympathy. But understandably, they felt obliged to divorce this sympathy from their public roles. We certainly felt that ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image