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After Raymond Williams

After Raymond Williams: Cultural Materialism and the Break-Up of Britain

Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 2
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  • Book Info
    After Raymond Williams
    Book Description:

    This volume is not only a detailed look at some of the writing produced in Scotland and Wales in the years surrounding political devolution, it also include a look at the ways in which difference sub-cultural commuities use fiction to renegotiate their relationships with the British whole.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2665-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. General Editor’s Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Foreword to the New Edition
    (pp. xi-xxx)

    Since the first edition of this book was published, there have been a number of important developments in the political process of devolution around the United Kingdom. In Wales, the nationalist political party Plaid Cymru experienced its first period of office in the so-called One Wales Assembly coalition with the Welsh Labour Party between 2007 and 2011. During the same period, the limited legislative powers introduced by the 2006 Government of Wales Act were enhanced after the 2011 referendum on law-making powers, resulting in the Welsh Assembly’s status being increased to that of Welsh Government. In Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness...

  7. Introduction: Williams and Modernity
    (pp. 1-24)

    Cultural materialism is the name Raymond Williams gave to a series of theoretical and methodological perspectives that he worked out for the critical analysis of culture. He suggested that there is an important relationship between what is happening in a society and the content of the cultural forms produced by it. Moreover, the central proposition of cultural materialism is that this relationship is not merely reflexive or post-dated. Cultural forms and especially literature do not just reflect other social events. The creation of these things is also a material part of the make-up of the society.

    The text in which...

  8. 1 Towards a Materialism of Culture
    (pp. 25-55)

    What is cultural materialism? The question is not a flippant one. Much recent theoretical work in English studies has proven remarkably unable to answer this question, and has at times served only to confuse what it seeks to clarify.

    Cultural materialism has become identified with a kind of Lacanian approach to literary texts. Such an approach typically definesmaterialismas a process of language acquisition. It analyses the process of subjectivity formation as it is worked out in the dialectical relationship between the ego and the social environment. This relationship is registered in and through language, so that the Lacanian...

  9. 2 The Welsh Identity of Raymond Williams
    (pp. 56-84)

    Raymond Williams’s project to articulate a critical cultural materialism could not be complete until he had taken on board a sense of the materiality of language itself. This vital element brought his work into creative dialogue with what he had previously thought of as bourgeois materialism – the work of semiotics, and an interest in the voice.

    As with the emergent drama of Scandinavia and Ireland, it was in terms of a polyphony of voices that Williams couched his positive evaluation of the Welsh playwright, Dylan Thomas. Williams praises Thomas’sUnder Milk Woodfor ‘weaving a pattern of voices, rather than...

  10. 3 Universities – Hard and Soft
    (pp. 85-110)

    At the same time as being concerned with the tradition of Welsh industrial writing, Raymond Williams was also involved in a quite different tradition – of university writing. This is generally English and middle class. Such involvement is significant, because it shows Williams always crossing disciplinary, generic and national boundaries.

    Concepts of education were of direct and central relevance to what Williams called thelong revolutiontowards a participatory democracy. Education, the curriculum and access to the university system are highly prominent themes in his writing, and university campuses feature frequently in his fiction. Williams’s theoretical interest was always in finding...

  11. 4 Postcolonial Britain
    (pp. 111-142)

    Modern British history reveals a gradual variation in the scope and nature of university education. Universities started out as institutions imbued with a national and imperial ethos during the colonial period. With an economic downturn brought on in part due to decolonization, the emphasis behind university education became more instrumental, providing training for the new professionals who would enable British businesses to compete in a global economy. In other words, the history of universities in Britain reveals a subtle overlap between national interest and capitalist economics.

    To Raymond Williams, the nation-state was an institution of cultural modernity and imperialism. The...

  12. 5 Williams, Film and the Break-Up of Britain
    (pp. 143-172)

    Raymond Williams’s theoretical work in literary studies was the tool by which his critical practice opened onto a much wider political world. In his fiction, this was related to the process of imagining new forms of nationhood. Moreover, his historical study of drama in Scandinavia, Ireland and Wales revealed a deep underlying interest in the relationship between emergent forms of writing and emergent national identities.

    The same can be said of Williams’s interest in film. To him, the critical cultural analysis of film constituted a natural extension of his interest in drama. This is partly because Williams was interested in...

  13. 6 A Reconsidered Conclusion: Post-British Williams?
    (pp. 173-190)

    The foreword to this new edition ofAfter Raymond Williamssurveyed some of the important recent research into the relationship between the construction of Britain following the 1707 Act of Union, and the foundation of the discipline of English literature during the same period. The principal finding of that research was that the idea of Britain was cultivated by the political and patrician classes through recourse to myth making and the popularization of ‘national’ narratives of all kinds. During the period of nascent imperialism, the national identity of a greater Britain was cultivated among the people of England, Scotland, Wales...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 191-200)
    (pp. 201-216)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 217-226)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-227)