Reading Marxism and Literature Now: Book History and the Politics of Work and World
This essay seeks to contextualize Williams’s Marxism and Literature in the history of Marxist and structuralist debates about language and mediation. It emphasizes the book’s usefulness in thinking both about our profession and our relationship to other kinds of workers. Williams consistently emphasizes process over structure and roots much of his understanding of Marxism in the history of Romantic-era England. Understanding media as an active process has important consequences for the fields of book history and media studies, as well as for the larger field of English studies. I argue that in seeing language as labor, knowledge workers operate in solidarity not only with each other but with the workers responsible for producing the material media on which we disseminate our texts. In turn, such thinking provides a trajectory for decolonizing English studies.