Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Arthur Sidgwick's Greek Prose Composition: Gender, Affect, and Sociability in the Late-Victorian University


The diaries and other papers of the Oxford classics teacher Arthur Sidgwick (1840–1920) show how men like Sidgwick used ancient Greek to demarcate the boundaries of an elite male social, emotional, and educational sphere, and how that sphere became more porous at the turn of the twentieth century through processes such as university coeducation. Progressive dons like Sidgwick stood by women's equality in principle but were troubled by the potential loss of an exceptional environment of intense friendships forged within intellectually rigorous single-sex institutions. Several aspects of Sidgwick's life and his use of Greek exemplify these tensions: his marriage, his feelings about close male friends, his life as a college fellow, his work on behalf of the Oxford Association for the Education of Women, and his children's lives and careers. The article recovers a lost world in which Greek was an active conversational language, shows how the teaching of classics and the inclusion of women were intimately connected in late-nineteenth-century Oxford, and suggests some reasons why that world endured for a certain period of time but ultimately came to an end. It offers a new way of explaining late-nineteenth-century cultural changes surrounding gender by placing education and affect firmly at their center.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Edmund Richardson , Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity (Cambridge, 2013)

H. S. Jones , Intellect and Character in Victorian England: Mark Pattison and the Invention of the Don (Cambridge, 2007)

Patrick Joyce , The State of Freedom: A Social History of the British State since 1800 (Cambridge, 2013), 263307

Judith Walkowitz , City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London (Chicago, 1992)

Deborah Cohen , Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain (Oxford, 2013)

Aesthetic Liberalism: John Stuart Mill as Essayist,Victorian Studies 56, no. 1 (Autumn 2013): 730

Christopher Hilliard , English as a Vocation: The Scrutiny Movement (Oxford, 2012)

M. G. Brock and M. C. Curthoys , eds., The History of the University of Oxford, vol. 7, The Nineteenth Century, part 2 (Oxford, 2000)

William Whyte , “The Intellectual Aristocracy Revisited,Journal of Victorian Culture 10, no. 1 (2005): 1545

Joe Moran , “Private Lives, Public Histories: The Diary in Twentieth-Century Britain,Journal of British Studies 54, no. 1 (January 2015): 138–62

Bart Schultz , Henry Sidgwick: The Eye of the Universe. An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge, 2004), 733n30

Jane Hamlett , “‘Tiresome Trips Downstairs’: Middle–Class Domestic Space and Family Relationships in England, 1850–1910,” in The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain since 1800, ed. Lucy Delap , Ben Griffin and Abigail Wills (Basingstoke, 2009), 111131, at 119–120

Joseph Bristow , “Remapping the Sites of Modern Gay History: Legal Reform, Medico–Legal Thought, Homosexual Scandal, Erotic Geography,Journal of British Studies 46, no. 1 (January 2007): 116–42

Stefano Evangelista , “‘Lovers and Philosophers at Once’: Aesthetic Platonism in the Victorian ‘Fin de Siècle,’Yearbook of English Studies 36, no. 2 (2006): 230–44

Emily Rutherford , “Impossible Love and Victorian Values: J. A. Symonds and the Intellectual History of Homosexuality,Journal of the History of Ideas 75, no. 4 (October 2014): 605–27, at 606–10

Yopie Prins , “Response,Victorian Studies 52, no. 1 (October 2009): 5262, at 55

Lawrence Goldman , Dons and Workers: Oxford and Adult Education since 1850 (Oxford, 1995)

Judith Walkowitz , “Science, Feminism and Romance: The Men and Women's Club 1885–1889,History Workshop 21, no. 1 (Spring 1986): 3659

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of British Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9371
  • EISSN: 1545-6986
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-british-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 20
Total number of PDF views: 62 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 445 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 13th January 2017 - 23rd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.