HIST 251 - Lecture 17 - Education and Literacy
Lecture 17 - Education and Literacy
Professor Wrightson begins by assessing the state of education in the late medieval period and then discusses the two cultural forces (Renaissance humanism and the Reformation) which lie behind the educational expansion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. While there were distinct hierarchies of learning in the period (with women and the lower orders having far fewer educational opportunities open to them than other members of the social order), this was genuinely a revolutionary period in terms of education. Attendance at the universities and the Inns of Court expanded exponentially, educational ideals for the elite were transformed, standards of clerical education reached unprecedented heights, grammar schools and petty schools were founded across the country and, by the end of the period, literacy levels in the population were much higher. England was now a partially literate society and was well on its way to achieving mass literacy. A threshold had been crossed, and this shift had far-reaching cultural and political effects.
Wrightson, English Society, pp. 183-99
Reay, Popular Cultures, chapter 2