The Raymond Williams Society postgraduate essay competition for work grounded in the tradition of cultural materialism is named in honour of our late and much-missed colleague, Simon Dentith (1952-2014), former editor of Key Words and prize judge.


We are delighted to announce that Madoc Cairns (Oriel College, Oxford) is the winner of the 2020 essay prize with ‘Art for Art’s sake? The “Craftsman Ideal”, Gender, Material Culture, and the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain, 1880-1910’. Readers from across the Key Words editorial board considered it a very accomplished, well-informed and elegant piece, impressive in the interesting overview it offers of the ways the Arts and Crafts movement both challenged and reinforced gender distinctions.

Madoc receives £100, a year’s subscription to the Society, and the opportunity to publish his essay in Key Words (subject to peer review).

The aim of the prize is to encourage a new generation of scholars working in the tradition of cultural materialism, especially those whose research is rooted in the work of Raymond Williams.

Previous winners

2019: Charlie Pullen (Queen Mary University of London), ‘”Childish Things”: Marion Richardson, Modernism, and the Teaching of Creativity’.

2018: Matti Ron (University of East Anglia), ‘An uneasy avant-garde: the politics of formal experimentation in 1930s working-class fiction’.

2017: Ryan David Furlong (University of Iowa), ‘”White Slaves” as “Black Slaves”: Re-evaluating the 19th c. Working-Class Autobiography within the (Con)texts of Transatlantic Abolitionism’.

2016: Laura McCormick Kilbride (University of Cambridge), ‘The New Catholic Left: Language, Liturgy and Literature in Slant Magazine, 1964-1970’

2015: Owen Holland (University of Cambridge), ‘From the Place Vendome to Trafalgar Square: Imperialism and Counter-Hegemony in the 1880s Romance Revival’

2013: Jennifer Morgan (University of Salford), ‘Uses of Shelley in Working-Class Culture’

2012: Chris Witter (Lancaster University) ‘Grace Paley and the Tenement Pastoral’

2010: Simon Machin (Roehampton University), ‘Why, comrade?: Raymond Williams, Orwell and Structure of Feeling in Boys’ Story Papers’