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Home » Books » History » Europe » England


A Social and Architectural History of Britain's Civic Universities

By William Whyte

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Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Other Information: 50 black and white images
Published In: United Kingdom, 25 August 2016
In the last two centuries Britain has experienced a revolution in higher education, with the number of students rising from a few hundred to several million. Yet the institutions that drove - and still drive - this change have been all but ignored by historians. Drawing on a decade's research, and based on work in dozens of archives, many of them used for the very first time, this is the first full-scale study of the civic universities - new institutions in the nineteenth century reflecting the growth of major Victorian cities in Britain, such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, York, and Durham - for more than 50 years. Tracing their story from the 1780s until the 2010s, it is an ambitious attempt to write the Redbrick revolution back into history. William Whyte argues that these institutions created a distinctive and influential conception of the university - something that was embodied in their architecture and expressed in the lives of their students and staff. It was this Redbrick model that would shape their successors founded in the twentieth century: ensuring that the normal university experience in Britain is a Redbrick one. Using a vast range of previously untapped sources, Redbrick is not just a new history, but a new sort of university history: one that seeks to rescue the social and architectural aspects of education from the disregard of previous scholars, and thus provide the richest possible account of university life. It will be of interest to students and scholars of modern British history, to anyone who has ever attended university, and to all those who want to understand how our higher education system has developed - and how it may evolve in the future.

Table of Contents

PART ONE: 1783-1843; PART TWO: 1843-1880; PART THREE: 1880-1914; PART FOUR: 1914-1949; PART FIVE: 1949-1973; PART SIX: 1973-1997

About the Author

William Whyte is Senior Dean and Associate Professor of History at St John's College, Oxford. He is the author of Oxford Jackson: architecture, education, status and style (2006), and editor of several other books, including George Gilbert Scott: an architect and his influence (2014).


Whyte has breathed new life into the history of British universities. * Emily Rutherford, Twentieth Century British History * The book is comprehensive, ranging from the eighteenth century to the present; it perceptively attends to false starts and fictional accounts, alongside more familiar and lasting successes; and it is deeply researched, generously illustrated, and beautifully written throughout ... Redbrick belongs on the shelf of every historian of architecture, universities, and indeed modern Britain, and it should also inform wider discussions about the university in Britain past, present, and future. * Journal of Modern History * Anyone searching for a scholarly, well-written, extensively illustrated account of Britain's Redbrick universities ... may retire from the hunt with this book in hand. * Joseph A. Soares, American Historical Review * William Whyte's excellent and provoking study of the evolution of the modern university in Britain ... deserves a wide readership, and provides valuable historical background to contemporary debates about the place of universities within society. * Alexander Hutton, English Historical Review * Beautifully written (not to mention witty) and drawing on extensive archival research ... Whyte's book successfully asserts a centrality for the British civic universities within both the history of higher education and the life of the nation that is long overdue. Its central thesis - that there is a common civic tradition within British higher education - will spark much debate. Good. The volume lends much-needed vitality to the history of higher education in Britain and will provide an invaluable starting point for all future historians of Britain's universities. * Mike Finn, History of Education * Rich, varied and amusing ... Whyte deserves congratulation for his thoughtful, perceptive and witty work. * Jeremy Black, History Today * Whyte's highly readable study of civic universities fills a significant gap in the history of higher education ... an outstanding book ... it brims with life by meaningfully weaving in the stories of the men and, by the late nineteenth century, the women who attended universities and inhabited their buildings. It transcends the history of education to reveal the central place of civic universities in the evolution of the modern state, the making of the middle class, and the mutual tempering of social radicalism and conservatism. * Christopher Bischof, Journal of British Studies * This superb book is the first history to cover the history of British civic universities in 50 years ... Whyte draws on a formidable array of archival research, discovering piquant quotes from a range of obscure sources ... the portrait of Britain's civic universities that emerges is, in the end, one that is almost 'beautiful' because it is a human portrait rather than an institutional one ... The book will obviously be of interest to those specializing in the history of education. However, the book's methodology, which is cogently set out in the introduction, should be read by all scholars thinking about how to write histories of the way societies interact with the physical environments that they occupy. * Otto Saumarez Smith, Urban History * William Whyte has succeeded admirably in depicting the evolution of Britain's extremely complex university sector in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ... This work of detailed scholarship has the virtue of being both very readable and exceptionally informative. Author and publisher alike are to be congratulated for producing such an attractive book that casts important light on a really complicated and previously overlooked topic. * Hugh Clout, Cercles * This carefully researched and well-illustrated study is a remarkable achievement. * Dr Michael Wheeler, Church Times * Authoritatively and perceptively as it makes a case for its subject, in prose that is often amusing as well as elegant ... it makes a refreshing change to wish that a book had been much longer * Michael Hall, The Victorian * A magnificent review of the two-centuries-long evolution of the civics ... perceptive. * David Palfreyman, Times Higher Education *

EAN: 9780198790341
ISBN: 0198790341
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.5 x 2.2 centimetres (0.60 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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