We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Raymond Williams Society Lecture will be given by Professor Michael Denning of Yale University.

The lecture will take place at Roscoe Building Theatre B, Brunswick Street (off Oxford Road), Manchester, UK, M13 9PY, on Wednesday March 7 2018 at 5pm.

Free entry.

Arrive early to avoid disappointment.


The lecture is being co-hosted by the Taylor Fellowship at the University of Manchester.

There will be a wine reception to follow, from 6.30pm onwards.

Michael Denning is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American Studies and English at Yale. He is the author of Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working Class Culture in America, The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century, and Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution.



We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Raymond Williams Society Postgraduate Essay Competition for 2017 (The Simon Dentith Memorial Prize) is Ryan David Furlong.

Ryan, a PhD candidate in English and American Literature at The University of Iowa, submitted an excellent essay titled ‘”White Slaves” as “Black Slaves”: Re-evaluating the 19th c. Working-Class Autobiography within the (Con)texts of Transatlantic Abolitionism’.

He will receive £100 in prize money, a year’s subscription to the society, and we look forward to his essay appearing in a future edition of Key Words. The editorial board would like to warmly congratulate him on this impressive achievement.

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Alan Sinfield (1941-2017)

The Committee of the Raymond Williams Society and the Editorial Committee of Key Words are deeply saddened to hear of the recent death of Alan Sinfield, and would like to offer their condolences to his partner, Vincent Quinn.
        Alan was a gay socialist critic strongly committed to the principles of cultural materialism first elaborated by Raymond Williams. He spent the majority of his academic career at the University of Sussex, where he co-founded the MA programme in Sexual Dissidence and Social Change, the first of its kind in Britain. His writing has been profoundly influential in the fields of Shakespeare and Early Modern Studies, Tennyson and Victorian Poetry, and Queer Studies. The magisterial study, Literature, Politics and Culture in Postwar Britain (1989), provided a distinctive analysis of welfare capitalism and the politics of the New Left, as well as a positive evaluation of the potential role of subcultures in response to the hegemony of the Thatcherite Right. It also exemplified his more general commitment to the not incompatible principles of rigour and generosity in scholarship, as well as to the democratic priority of communication through a style that conveys even complex arguments with clarity and urgency.
        Alan’s loss to us all is considerable, but his personality was everywhere present in his work, and we are fortunate indeed still to have that. His range was remarkable: other major works include The Language of Tennyson’s In Memoriam (1971), Literature in Protestant England, 1560-1660 (1983), the co-edited collection (with Jonathan Dollimore) Political Shakespeare: Essays in Cultural Materialism (1989), Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (1992), Cultural Politics – Queer Reading (1994), The Wilde Century: Oscar Wilde, Effeminacy and the Queer Moment (1994), Gay and After: Gender, Culture and Consumption (1998), Out on Stage: Lesbian and Gay Theatre in the Twentieth Century (1999), On Sexuality and Power (2004), and his final collection of essays before illness made writing impossible, Shakespeare, Authority and Sexuality: Unfinished Business in Cultural Materialism (2006). A recent issue of the journal, Textual Practice – of which he was a former editor – marked the scope and importance of his output. A full obituary will appear in Key Words in 2018.


The Simon Dentith Memorial Prize 2016

We are delighted to announce that the winner of this year’s 2016 Raymond Williams Society Postgraduate Essay Competition (the Simon Dentith Memorial Prize) is Laura McCormick Kilbride.

Readers were impressed by the focus and sophistication of her essay, ‘The New Catholic Left: Language, Liturgy and Literature in Slant Magazine, 1964-1970’.

Laura completed her doctorate at St John’s College, Cambridge in October 2015 and has since been elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Peterhouse, Cambridge.

Congratulations Laura.



Raymond Williams: Popular Music and Subculture – conference report (10/6/16)

As a response to the significant revival of interest in the diverse legacy of Raymond Williams, this day conference sought to consider productive but little explored connections between Williams and the study of subcultures, popular music and social change.

A lively and productive day, with 31 attendees and 9 speakers, the event at Friends’ Meeting House in central Manchester was attended by a mixture of academics, students and cultural producers. There was also a representative of Social Science Centre Manchester, a new initiative that aims to provide free, co-operative higher education evening classes open to all.


RWS report
Speakers (L to R) – Rhian E. Jones, Pete Dale (chairing), David Wilkinson and Steve Hanson.