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Raymond Williams

Cultural Analyst

Raymond Williams was a towering figure in twentieth-century intellectual life. Though he is primarily thought of as a literary scholar, his work crossed disciplinary boundaries, and he made groundbreaking contributions to numerous fields, most notably social and cultural theory. This book focuses in particular on the formation and application of his cultural-materialist methodology to society and politics. Addressing aspects of Williams’s work that have startlingly direct relevance to the prospects for socialism and progressive change in the 21st century, Jim McGuigan analyzes Williams’s often complicated work in a clear, accessible fashion, making connections across key concepts and delivering the perfect introduction for people first grappling with Williams’s thought.

200 pages | 7 x 9 | © 2019

Culture Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Sociology: General Sociology

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"For everyone interested in the history of academic Cultural Studies in Britain and America and its contemporary issues, this book will be essential reading. . . . McGuigan deftly shows that Williams is not just an archaic figure of history but more than relevant to the contemporary situation."

Tom Steele | Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

"More than six decades after Raymond Williams proclaimed 'Culture is ordinary' in his materialist essay of the same name (Williams 2014), it is easy to lose sight of the influence of this seemingly banal statement. Its transformative impact within the study of culture and social relations is now so fundamentally embedded that it can be read as mere common sense. Thus, Jim McGuigan's new book offers an accessible introduction and timely reappraisal of the breadth of Williams' radical scholarship for readers in all disciplines. . . . With great efficiency, McGuigan engages the unfamiliar reader in the breadth of Williams' intellectual interests—and scholarly reach—by drawing parallels with our present moment."

Ruth Gilbert | Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies

"The book does a good job of showing that Williams’s work still provides resources for understanding our historical present. It does so by highlighting aspects of Williams’s work that are less known or even misunderstood, such as the concepts of mobile privatisation and common culture, or even that of 'knowable community'. Neophyte and senior cultural analysts alike will appreciate this gesture. . . . Inviting and expansive."

Cultural Trends

"The best concise introduction to the work of Raymond Williams currently available. . . . We have sorely needed a book-length case for Williams's continuing relevance and McGuigan prosecutes it ably. While the book is primarily an account of Williams's academic work, McGuigan applies biographical and historical context in the right proportions to bring out the real import of Williams's work without distracting from it (a tricky balancing act for any synoptic writer)."

Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism | Daniel Gerke

"Jim McGuigan’s book is the best introduction I know to Raymond Williams' work. It is balanced, accessible, and comprehensive. Thoroughly recommended."

David McLellan, University of Kent

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