Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists
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 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 analysis that goes ”beyond the modern” and yet avoids the trap of postmodernism’s “new conformism”?
”One of Williams’s most striking qualities as a writer is a rare combination of reason and feeling ... a toughly analytic mind is fuelled by the rich emotional resources of a creative writer.” — Terry Eagleton
Raymond Williams was born in 1921 in the Welsh border village of Pandy. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and after the war taught for many years as an adult education tutor. In 1961 he became a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and University Lecturer in English. He was Professor of Drama at Cambridge from 1974 until his retirement in 1983. Raymond Williams died in January 1988. His many books include Culture and Society (1958), The Long Revolution (1961), Modern Tragedy (1966), The Country and the City (1973), Marxism and Literature (1977), Politics and Letters (1979), Problems in Materialism and Culture (1980), Towards 2000 (1983), Resources of Hope (1989) and several novels.