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date: 07 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Convinced that the lessons of Victorian religion are more positive and more varied than we sometimes think, this essay explores different ways in which Christianity in particular sought to educate people in the nineteenth century. In doing so, the essay questions some of the perspectives on religion passed down through the critical tradition, particularly the idea that a hermeneutics of suspicion should be our primary mode of interpretation. While suspicion plays an important role in our critical reading, it can also blind us to important aspects of Victorian religion and education, such as the very different attitudes towards education among Victorian Christians; the extent to which educational thought and practice were shaped by belief; the attempts to widen educational provision (through Sunday schools and Ragged schools, for instance); the instruction offered through devotional practices, hymns, and church; and the pervasiveness of preaching in Victorian life and literary culture.

Keywords: religion, education, preaching, instruction, reading, suspicion, church, Christian, Christianity, perspective

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