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New Horizons and new Challenges: Developments in the Modern Languages in the University of Leeds, 1914–18

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/06/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Northern History
Issue number1
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)116-136
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date16/03/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The history of British universities before 1945 remains poorly understood. In particular, the factors shaping new academic developments, especially in the humanities, are under-researched. This paper looks at the development of teaching and research in the Modern Languages at the University of Leeds during the First World War, a period that was pivotal in the creation of new departments and programmes in many universities. Using extensive archival sources, the paper examines the pressures that led to the creation of new departments and the interplay of local and national influences that stimulated such change. Tensions are identified, such as that between employers urging an emphasis on the spoken language necessary for trade and commerce, and an ‘academic’ perspective that favoured more linguistic study and work on literature or history. Other factors, such as funding issues, institutional leadership, links with other educational institutions, staffing and student recruitment are also considered. In conclusion, the paper sheds light not only on developments in the Modern Languages, but also on the working of universities in the first half of the twentieth century.