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Book Title: Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society|
The author of the book: Raymond Williams
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Reader ratings: 3.9
Edition: Oxford University Press
Date of issue: 1985
ISBN 13: 9780195204698
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 692 KB
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A personal, Anglocentric, left and lit-crit focused dictionary of 110 terms, ranging from ‘Aesthetic’ to ‘Work,’ each given one to eight pages of etymological, political and cultural history reaching occasionally beyond the 16th century but with emphasis on current (as of 1976), 18th, 19th and mid 20th century usage.
Each small essay works quickly through the turns (according to Williams) of history with its own idiosyncratic shorthand and in a manner that though regularly illuminating often, perhaps because of Williams’ unqualified abbreviation, sows hints of doubt as to the depth and full trustworthiness of its historical research.
As an instance, the entry for ‘Socialist’ (five pages) runs through the word’s emergence in “eC19” (early 19th century), through alternate terms (mutualist, associationist, phalansterian), the changing uses of socialist and communist up to and beyond the Bolshevik revolution, a similar history of ‘Anarchism,’ and then, quickly, notes on ‘Militant,’ ‘Nihilist,’ and finally ‘Left,’ ‘lefty’ and ‘leftism.’ The book’s longest entry seems to be on ‘Class.’
A work in Williams’ manner, but tuned to the turns of 21st century American usage (‘liberal,’ ‘conservative,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘populist,’ etc.) might be enlightening – more so, I would hope (or at least less pretentiously), than the 2005 collaborative reworking of “Keywords,” Blackwell Publishing’s “New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society,” an unsatisfying creature of the cultural studies world Williams helped engender.
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Read information about the authorRaymond Henry Williams was a Welsh academic, novelist, and critic. He taught for many years and the Professor of Drama at the University of Cambridge. He was an influential figure within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the mass media and literature are a significant contribution to the Marxist critique of culture and the arts. His work laid the foundations for the field of cultural studies and the cultural materialist approach. Among his many books are Culture and Society, Culture and Materialism, Politics and Letters, Problems in Materialism and Culture, and several novels.
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