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By Richard Mason

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The theory depends on the notion of'the integrative action of the nervous system' (the title of a book published in 1906 by the distinguished biologist Charles Scott Sherrington, whose work was seminal for Richards). Conducting our lives is a matter of organising impulses: 'appetencies' and 'aversions' - the two kinds of impulse need to be reconciled, integrated in such a way as to allow for the greatest satisfaction possible: 'the highest degree of organization of the satisfaction of impulses'.

Beginning in 1925, Richards gave courses on 'practical criticism' in which he distributed short poems for written comment; the poems were provided with no indication of author or date and mixed good with bad. His 1929 volume Practical Criticism was based on this 'fieldwork' and sought to document the - parlous - state of culture. The reports received were presented as evidence of a general inability to read literature, successfully to possess the experience of poems. Ten 27 STEPHEN HEATH kinds of failure were discussed at length, ranging from failure to grasp plain sense to failure resulting from stock responses, doctrinal inhibitions, and general critical preconceptions, and Richards ended by advocating reform in the teaching of English: a central place should be assigned to learning how language works, studying kinds of meaning, looking at the causes of misunderstanding - 'in brief, the psychology of the speech-situation'.

2 The days of marginality are not entirely behind us. However, this chapter is concerned with the earliest campaigners for a place for women in the University; what animated, what motivated them. It attempts to explore the concerns that drove them to campaign as they did; concerns which have more than ephemeral interest and continue to have resonance in the contemporary world. Its title - 'Emily Davies, the Sidgwicks and the education of women' may sound a slightly cumbersome one, but it was chosen deliberately, for two reasons.

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