Chris Baldick, The Social Mission of English Criticism (96-7) on the 1921 Newboldt Report, “The Teaching of English in England” (which can be found here):


The Report recognizes that great literature and 'common life' have become increasingly separated since the Middle Ages, and that this process has been accelerated greatly by the Industrial Revolution and the growth of the huge manufacturing cities (an analysis developed later by the Leavises). Hence the prevailing distrust of literature among the working classes. But at this point the Report suddenly casts aside its dismal warnings of growing class hostility, and invokes a romantic vision of the future poet, in a passage which concentrates the weight and direction of the committee's enthusiasm:


Here too lies our hope; since the time cannot be far distant when the poet, who 'follows wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings', will invade this vast new territory, and so once more bring sanctification and joy into the sphere of common life. It is not in man to hasten this consummation. The wind bloweth where it listeth. All we can do here is to draw attention to the existing divorce, and to suggest measures that may lead to reunion.

 The interim, we feel, belongs chiefly to the professors of English literature. The rise of modern Universities has accredited an ambassador of poetry to every important capital of industrialism in the country, and upon his shoulders rests a responsibility greater we think than is yet generally recognised. The Professor of Literature in a University should be - and sometimes is, as we gladly recognise - a missionary in a more real and active sense than any of his colleagues. He has obligations not merely to the students who come to him to read for a degree, but still more towards the teeming population outside the University walls, most of whom have not so much as 'heard whether there be any Holy Ghost'.** The fulfillment of these obligations means propaganda work, organisation and the building up of a staff of assistant missionaries. But first , and above all, it means a right attitude of mind, a conviction that literature and life are in fact inseparable, that literature is not just a subject for academic study  but one of the chief temples of the human spirit, in which all should worship.



** See Acts 19:1-7.