Month: November 2014

Chants for Socialists in 2015

I was a teenage Hefner fan and am looking forward to the release of singer Darren Hayman’s new project: setting the lyrics of William Morris’ pamphlet ‘Chants for Socialists’ to music. The clip above shows how enmeshed this album is with Morris’ legacy: recording vocals at Kelmscott House and Kelmscott Manor, using Morris’ letterpress to print LP sleeves, and recording Morris’ piano at Kelmscott Manor.

It also aims to link to the present, as Hayman explains in the video’s blurb:

I saw these as ‘emergency’ protest songs, something to draw on in times of strife. I think we are in troubled times. I regard these as useful lyrics. Morris grouped these songs under a banner of socialism and I class myself as a socialist, but these songs, to me, are more about simple kindness and hope. I acknowledge the naivety and rhetoric in these words. They offer few practical solutions for today, but I love their simplicity. They make me feel young again. They remind of the hope I had in the Red Wedge movement, and how politicised I was around the 1984 miner’s strike.

He also invited local singers from Walthamstow to contribute vocals.

‘Chants for Socialists’ has a blog here, and will be released 2 Feb by http://www.hefnet.com/chants-for-socialists-darren-hayman/ and http://www.wiaiwya.com/

Jen

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Editing Enid 1

Enid_Stacy_(1868-1903)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_450475

I am trying out blogging my experience of co-editing a book for the Working Class Movement Library: the biography They called her ‘our Enid’. Life story of Enid Stacy, socialist, feminist and worker for democratic rights 1868-1903. Enid Stacy was a feminist and socialist, helping to organise strikes in Bristol in the late 19th century. She became a prominent speaker at meetings and was present at the conference founding the Independent Labour Party in 1893.

It’s been a while since I read the manuscript but one of the memorable aspects of the book was Stacy’s struggle to pursue her political work as well as caring for a much wanted child. I imagine that her experiences will speak to many women today. Stacy deserves more attention as a socialist who did not make women’s rights a secondary issue. As June Hannan’s DNB entry states:

Enid Stacy’s most enduring contribution to the revived socialist movement was to bring socialism and women’s rights together. […] Her most systematic attempt to develop a theoretical framework to bring socialist and feminist ideas together was her essay, ‘A Century of Women’s Rights’, published in the influential socialist anthology Forecasts of the Coming Century (1897), edited by Edward Carpenter.

Thankfully, the WCML has a copy of Forecasts; I look forward to consulting it.

We (Maggie Cohen, Rae Street, and I) are editing the biography without being able to consult its author, Angela Tuckett, who is no longer with us. Tuckett was Stacy’s niece, and was so prolific in so many areas that you must really read the WCML website entry on her to get a full biog (short version: communist, journalist, international hockey player).

The manuscript therefore presents us with extra jobs: not just correcting formatting and style (without checking with Tuckett) but also checking all Tuckett’s references (some of which are inaccurate), adding references to the now fully indexed items in the WCML’s Angela Tuckett archive, and finding references to other archives that have been relocated from one institution to another. It’s a difficult task of sleuthing, sometimes, but I hope we have a script before long that honours Enid and Angela’s efforts.

Upcoming

It’s been a while since RSN has organised any events: Ben Harker took up a new post at the University of Manchester, and Elinor and Jen were finishing PhDs. Thanks to the generous support of the Raymond Williams Society we have some funding to put on a day conference in the centre of Manchester on a Saturday in May 2015.

‘Raymond Williams Now’ will ask questions about the continuing relevance of Williams’ work in criticism, politics, and creative projects. (I was going to write ‘creative writing’ but remembered reading this week about Ruth Beale’s ‘Performing Keywords‘. Why always writing? Ruth and Amy Feneck contributed to RSN3 in February 2013 with their talk ‘The Alternative School of Economics: Art Practice, Politics and Education’.)

The conference will aim to provoke genuine assessments on Williams’ legacy, on subjects including but not limited to:

adult education; ecology; feminism; media; Williams and Wales; the May Day Manifesto; post-colonial and global Williams; science fiction; the public intellectual; Williams and the politics of criticism; Williams as novelist and playwright; ‘old’ and ‘new’ lefts.

Recent meditations on British cultural studies have covered Stuart Hall and the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. We want to give Williams his due but also to discover the places for new growth. As Williams stated himself in Marxism and Literature (OUP, 1977: p. 116)

much of the most accessible and influential work of the counter-hegemony is historical: the recovery of discarded areas, or the redress of selective and reductive interpretations. But this in turn has little effect unless the lines to the present […] are clearly and actively traced.

Clearly, academia does not have (and is unlikely to develop) a monopoly on creating ‘lines to the present’ — drawing links between what Williams would call ‘residual’ social, political, creative forms and contemporary concerns. Contributions from people with other backgrounds will therefore be extremely welcome. Costs will be kept as low as possible to enable people without generous travel bursaries to attend.

We would also like to break somewhat with the traditional conference format, maybe no keynotes and a more participatory aspect? What would you appreciate: discussion sessions on key texts? Round table discussion instead of keynotes?

It’s early days as we have yet to finalise the date but wanted to give our followers advanced warning. Please email us if you want to join the mailing list: raymondwilliamsnow2015[at]gmail.com

I have enjoyed writing this post and hope to engage with the blog more regularly in the future. A personal blog doesn’t hold much appeal for me but a group one exploring common interests does. I have just finished my PhD and imagine that not having access to a research community would start to bite after a while. Hopefully, RSN events and this forum will provide us and others with stimulation.

Please let us know if you would like to contribute guest posts, as Chris Witter did in the previous post.

by Jen Morgan