Report by: Basreena Basheer
Raymond Williams was a welsh academic, critic and novelist. He is widely credited for the introduction of cultural studies and the cultural materialistic approach. His major works include Culture and Society (1958), The Long Revolution (1961), Marxism and Literature (1977).
In the lecture that was given on 17 March 1987 at the
In his lecture, Williams tries to confiscate the romantic element off the modernist movement. One problem with the selective appropriation of the movement is that in giving credit to only few writers who departed from conventional writing tradition, the older traditional writers are ignored. What is being overlooked here is the fact that without the older traditional writers, modernism could not have happened. In Williams’ words, “writers are applauded for their denaturalizing of language, their break with the allegedly prior view that language is clear, and for their making apparent in the narrative the problematic status of the author and his authority. But in excluding the great realists, this version of modernism refuses to see how they devised and organized a whole vocabulary and its structure of figures of speech with which to grasp the unprecedented social form of the industrial city.”
One possible explanation for this selective appropriation according to Williams was the change in the media of cultural production in the late nineteenth century and their ideological consequences. Photography, cinema, radio and television were gaining wide scale importance during that time. The public was getting increasingly drawn by these new mediums. Hence the sudden change in the field of arts and aesthetics was a reaction reacting to the sudden progression of media as an effort to defend their own territories. Therefore innovations like the stream of consciousness, interior monologue and the like.
In addition to this, this so called cultural reformation occurred only in the metropolitan cities, the new centers of imperialism such as
Pinto, Anil. Lecture notes.
Williams, Raymond. “When was Modernism?” Art in Modern culture: An Anthology of Critical Texts. Eds. Francis Franscina, and Jonathan Harris.