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Only in the Common People: The Aesthetics of Class in Post-War Britain
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Only in the Common People: The Aesthetics of Class in Post-War Britain (Hardback)

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Synopsis

"corrupt and moronic though the common people are seemingly becoming ...only in the common people can the true work be rooted, the true tradition rediscovered and re-informed" Charles Parker, BBC Radio Producer 1959. In 1958, in his best-selling book Culture and Society, Raymond Williams identified working-class culture as 'a key issue in our own time'. Why this happened and how this subject was thought about and acted upon is the focus of this book. Paul Long investigates a variety of projects and practices that were designed to describe, validate, reclaim, rejuvenate or generate 'authentic' working-class culture as part of the re-imagining of Britishness in the context of the post-war settlement. Detailed case studies cover the wartime cultural activities of CEMA - the forerunner of the Arts Council - the Folk Revival, the impact of Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy, broadcasting and the radio work of Charles Parker, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, the roots of modern arts festivals in Arnold Wesker's Centre 42 project as well as the impact of progressive education on children's writing and the politics of the English language.

'Only in the Common People: The Aesthetics of Class in Post-War Britain' examines the assumptions, idealism and prejudices behind these projects and the terms of class as 'the preoccupation of a generation'. This approach offers a historicisation of the broader ideas and debates that informed the development of the New Left and British social history and cultural theory, offering an understanding of the rise of respect for 'the common man'.

Paul Long is Senior Lecturer in Media Theory in the Department of Media and Communication at Birmingham City University. His published work has concerned topics as varied as Charles Parker, DJ John Peel and popular music radio, local history and the cultural politics and redevelopment of his hometown of Birmingham. He is the editor of the 'Friends of Philip Donnellan' website (www.philipdonnellan.co.uk) This is his first book.

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