Exploring Raymond Williams 'Key Words' with Kevin Walker

Ref: C3533151

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 a 'cultured' elite. Now everyone is part of society, and can claim a culture of their own. Consider also the variety of interconnected meanings for 'common', as shared or frequent, a location and a put-down. Each session will examine some of his original key-words and then we can add our own. To participate, you need not be widely read, nor possess specialist knowledge. All you need is a willingness to examine your own experience of language in the company of others in the live zoom sessions supported by extensive materials on Canvas which offer the opportunity to continue the discussion online.

Course aim

To apply the methods of analysing language introduced by Raymond Williams in his book ‘Key Words’ so revealing their hidden power over our 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?

  • No previous knowledge about the work of Raymond Williams is necessary or assumed. This course is about our experience of using language and not about finding 'correct' definitions. Its not about learning to use English 'correctly'.

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.
  • 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 our 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?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There is no required reading but the following two books will be recommended. Keywords: a vocabulary of culture & society. Raymond Williams (1976) Border Country - a semi-autobiographical novel by Raymond Williams (1960)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Exploring Raymond Williams 'Key Words' with Kevin Walker

Enrolment Conditions

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 2021
  • 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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