The Emergence of Cultural Studies: Adult Education, Cultural Politics, and the 'English' Question

The Emergence of Cultural Studies: Adult Education, Cultural Politics, and the 'English' Question

The Emergence of Cultural Studies: Adult Education, Cultural Politics, and the 'English' Question

The Emergence of Cultural Studies: Adult Education, Cultural Politics, and the 'English' Question

Synopsis

Using unique archive material, this book examines the prehistory of cultural studies in Britain, tracing its roots in adult education, especially in the work of Raymond Williams, EP Thompson and Richard Hoggart, who all worked in this field. Each of these three worked in a context in which popular culture and inter-disciplinary understanding were important, and where English Studies was broadened to embrace a range of material and experience not included in the Leavisite definitions. This led to a pre-occupation with the term 'culture' in its many meanings - and especially in its relationship to Englishness. Eventually this pre-occupation developed into a new area of study, and to the setting up of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Drawing on archive material as well as contemporary history and analysis, Tom Steele provides a fascinating account of the overlapping interests which combined to produce a completely new area of study.

Excerpt

The aim of this archaeological study is to attempt to reconstruct a pre-history of British cultural studies, in the work of adult education between the 1930s and the 1960s. It traces the influence of new approaches to working-class history, popular formations, the ‘national’ culture and socialist politics which were being produced in the work of adult educators in the immediate postwar period. The educational work of E.P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams will be of special interest because of their role in the ‘founding’ both of British cultural studies and the New Left; but they will be contextualised within the broader creative milieu of experiment and re-alignment within adult education. The work of other figures in adult education – such as Thomas Hodgkin, Sidney Raybould, A.D. Lindsay, Karl Mannheim, Karl Polanyi and G.H. Thompson, and their interrelationships – are also significant in constructing what Williams might have called a structure of feeling.

The milieu of adult education in the immediate pre-war and post-war period has been reconstructed by reference to archival searches, articles in the professional, educational and political journals, papers from institutional and professional associations, and private papers and interviews with tutors and students in adult education during this period. The study also examines the . . .

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