Study Guide

Raymond Williams - MAJOR ARGUMENTS

MAJOR ARGUMENTS

This may not be a major argument as such, but I'd just like to underscore the immense popularity and visionary quality of my book Keywords. You need to understand that I wrote this long before search engines; Keywords is like the Oxford English Dictionary on steroids.

My keywords are not just definitions and etymologies—I drill deep on language, showing all of its twists and turns and historical and ideological implications. I take words out of the dusty old book and bring them into the big world where real people live—not just scholars up in their ivory towers and whatnot. My keywords are language for the people. I trace each keyword through time, showing how its changing meaning reflects the different historical, political, and social contexts in which it has been used.

Let's face it: the word "genetic" in the 19th century meant something very different from what it means today in our era of genetically modified foods. The point is that words change from generation to generation. I mean, does "tweet" mean the same thing today as it did in the works of the Romantic poets? Was Keats's nightingale in "Ode to a Nightingale" tweeting? Oh, perish the thought!

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