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Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists

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The death of Raymond Williams in 1988 robbed us of one of the most formidable British intellectuals. Considered to be the founding father of British cultural theory, Williams was concerned throughout his life to apply a materialist and socialist analysis to all forms of culture, defined generously and inclusively as 'structures of feeling'. In this, his last major work, Williams applies himself to the problem of modernism. Rejecting stereotypes and simplifications, he is especially preoccupied with the ambivalent...
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Overview

The death of Raymond Williams in 1988 robbed us of one of the most formidable British intellectuals. Considered to be the founding father of British cultural theory, Williams was concerned throughout his life to apply a materialist and socialist analysis to all forms of culture, defined generously and inclusively as 'structures of feeling'. In this, his last major work, Williams applies himself to the problem of modernism. Rejecting stereotypes and simplifications, he is especially preoccupied with the ambivalent relationship between revolutionary socialist politics and the artistic avant-garde. Judiciously assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the modernist project, Williams shifts the framework of discussion from merely formal analysis of artistic techniques to one which grounds these cultural expressions in particular social formations. Animating the whole book is the question which Williams poses and brings us significantly closer to answering: namely, what does it mean to develop a cultural politics which goes 'beyond the modern' and yet which avoids the trap of postmodernism's 'new conformism'?
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Editorial Reviews

Village Voice
“Williams is the Western thinker who, along with Antonio Gramsci, has done most to enlarge our understanding of the political complexities of culture.”
Terry Eagleton
“A toughly analytic mind is fueled by the rich emotional resources of a creative writer.”
From the Publisher
“A toughly analytic mind is fueled by the rich emotional resources of a creative writer.”—Terry Eagleton

“Williams is the Western thinker who, along with Antonio Gramsci, has done most to enlarge our understanding of the political complexities of culture.”—Village Voice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844675807
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 1/19/2007
  • Series: Radical Thinkers Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Williams (1921–1988) was for many years Professor of Drama at the University of Cambridge. 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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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Editorial Note
Frontispiece: Facsimile of the draft plan for The Politics of Modernism
Editor's Introduction: Modernism and Cultural Theory 1
1 When Was Modernism? 31
2 Metropolitan Perceptions and the Emergence of Modernism 37
3 The Politics of the Avant-Garde 49
4 Language and the Avant-Garde 65
5 Theatre as a Political Forum 81
6 Afterword to Modern Tragedy 95
7 Cinema and Socialism 107
8 Culture and Technology 119
9 Politics and Policies: The Case of the Arts Council 141
10 The Future of Cultural Studies 151
11 The Uses of Cultural Theory 163
Appendix: Media, Margins and Modernity 177
Select Bibliography 199
Index 201
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