This book places the establishment of the British Academy in the context of the Victorian organisation of knowledge. In this introductory chapter, the nature of academic, official, and legitimate knowledge in the Victorian period is discussed. It also considers the epistemological sites of Victorian Britain and how they were ordered. These sites included social networks, clubs, or societies such as provincial literary and philosophical societies and archaeological societies, national bodies such as the Royal Geographical Society, and the most exclusive, closed bodies of the elect, such as the Royal Society and the British Academy. These bodies have their own distinctive structures of power and authority. The Royal Society and British Academy for example, were designed to stabilise knowledge and the status of those claiming knowledge.
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