Study Guide

Raymond Williams - The Tenured Radicals

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The Tenured Radicals

This clique's name may confuse you, but it used to be the case that people teaching in the academy actually had some pretty radical ideas—even people at the esteemed bastion of tradition known as Cambridge University. The "TRs," as they call themselves, like to be outsiders on the inside, questioning all of the received wisdom and conventions of British education. They're sneaky, because they "hide" their radicalism in plain sight: right on their syllabi. It's not what they teach, but how they teach it. You won't find your grandmother's Moby-Dick here.

Raymond Williams and Eric Hobsbawm

They didn't even hold an election to decide who would be co-presidents. Sure, that sounds fascist, but it just seemed natural that these guys should head the TRs. As co-presidents, they always make sure that other professor-members are sneaking overt and/or subliminal messages into their curriculum. They are never competitive, because Hobsbawm is a Marxist historian, and Williams is a mixed bag in terms of politics and disciplines. However, they are both fully committed to stirring up interpretations of tradition and history.

EP Thompson

Thompson takes care of all of the poetry students, making sure that their readings of William Blake never lack revolutionary fervor. Thompson loves those Romantics (you know—Keats, Shelley, Byron, those guys); he's also a huge fan of William Morris. Thompson and the guys really bond over his counter-interpretation of England's Industrial Revolution. While everyone else is talking about progress and growth, Thompson points out all the stuff that was ruined by the Industrial Revolution—things like leisure, natural human pace, and contemplation.

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