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Francis Mulhern

What is Culture? Raymond Williams and the Cultural Theory of “Customary Difference”

What is culture? This is a persistent historical problem. All historians, especially cultural historians, hold a theory about culture, stated or not. This is also an intellectual historical problem in that, whereas culture is constantly theorized, perhaps over-theorized—every modern mode of thought involves a cultural theory—rarely are the origins and trajectory of the word “culture” studied historically. In the most recent edition of New Left Review (Jan-Feb 2009), Francis Mulhern considers these problems by way of a retrospective glance at Raymond Williams’ famous work, Culture and Society (1961). Mulhern argues that Williams’ theory of culture, Marxist in its emphasis on Read more