Exploring Raymond Williams 'Key Words' - With Kevin Walker

Ref: C3531972

This course is inspired by cultural theorist and ex-WEA tutor Raymond Williams’ book ‘Key Words’ (1976) in which he explores the changed meaning of 131 words which reflect social change over the last few hundred years. For example, once ‘society’ described a few people who were part of an elite upper class. Now everyone is part of society, and can claim a culture of their own. Each session will examine some of his original key-words and then add our own. This course is a fully online with no physical meeting space, accessing the course through Canvas our virtual learning environment and zoom a video conferencing software. To participate, you need not be widely read, nor possess specialist knowledge. All you need is a willingness to examine your own experience and use of language in the company of others in the live online sessions on Zoom. These are supported by materials on Canvas which offer the opportunity and continue the discussion between sessions.

Course aim

To apply the methods of analysing language introduced by Raymond Williams in his book ‘Key Words’ so revealing their hidden power over lives and thinking. To explore William's use of fiction to explore people's lives, culture and politics.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline and http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • No skills or experience needed
  • No previous knowledge of language or the work of Raymond Williams is required. This course is not about spelling or grammar (both areas in which the tutor is no expert). It is not about learning a ‘correct’ definition of unfamiliar words.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • outline what Raymond Williams meant by key-words and give examples from your own experience.
  • examine the ways in which key-words are used to limit thought and action.
  • feel able to take part in discussions about the meanings of key-words and contribute to online discussion pages.
  • grasp a sense of the role of language in thinking and in constructing experience of the world.
  • recognise the political power of language and feel more prepared to challenge when words are used to limit diversity of thought and expression.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Those student who wish to can contribute to online discussion pages regarding some of the words discussed.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • There is no required reading but the following books will be recommended. Keywords: a vocabulary of culture & society. Raymond Williams (1976) Border Country - a semi-autobiographical novel by Raymond Williams (1960)

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course information sheet

Exploring Raymond Williams 'Key Words' - With Kevin Walker


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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