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In a podcast interview with British cultural studies scholar Toby Miller on Feb 7, 2024, I was prompted to recall my early associations with various British scholars that he and I both admire: E. P. Thompson, Christopher Hill, Raymond Williams, and Stuart Hall. I was fortunate enough to teach and live in England for close to a year while writing Revolution and the Word and even more fortunate to meet a number of doctoral students and newly minted PhDs who were able to put me in touch with these “household names” in cultural theory at the time. Although we never met face to face, we exchanged a number of letters and one or two phone calls. They were extremely intrigued that someone was writing about mass printing at the time of the American Constitution and was asking the kinds of questions that English and European “historians of the book” were asking. They pushed me, asked me unanswerable questions, and assured me that my quest to find “real readers” as well as “real writers” would be fascinating at this seminal moment in U.S. cultural and political origins.

In retrospect, I’m not sure I would have gotten there without their generosity–and their curiosity. I added a gender and racial component to their studies of class. And was both humbled and bemused when, after Raymond Williams passed away, his assistant wrote me a letter to tell me that a copy of Revolution and the Word was on his desk at the time of his death.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy N. Davidson

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