Link to the University of Pittsburgh
Jesus College, University of Cambridge

About Keywords for Today

Forthcoming with Oxford University Press in Fall 2018

Keywords for Today takes us deep into the history of the language in order to better understand our contemporary world. From nature to cultural appropriation and from black to terror, the most important words in political and cultural debate have complicated and complex histories. The aim of this book is to sketch these histories in order to illuminate debate. The book is based on Raymond Williams’s classic Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, first published in 1976. There are approximately 85 new entries (ranging from access to youth), and approximately 40 entries retained from Williams (examples: nature, realism, violence) have had updates added covering the decades since Williams published.

The book is both a history of English covering much of the most important semantic change in the language and a handbook of current political and ideological debate. In a period when the deluge of information both real and fake makes political understanding more and more difficult, Keywords offers a crucial tool to distinguish meanings and to make judgments. Whether it is demonstrating how recent are the religious meanings of fundamentalism or how complicated is the linguistic history of queer, Keywords for Today constantly intrigues and enlightens.

Keywords for Today is an essential tool for any serious student of the humanities from freshman to professor. From culture to identity, from sexuality to socialism, Keywords for Today provides the crucial contexts and histories for our twenty-first century vocabulary. It is also a book of profound interest for anybody interested in the history of the language or current political debate.

The book is authored by the Keywords Project, an independent group of scholars who, with the support of the University of Pittsburgh, Jesus College, Cambridge, and the academic journal Critical Quarterly, have spent more than a decade preparing Keywords for Today.

Sylvia Adamson, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Literary History, School of English, University of Sheffield
Kathryn Allan, Senior Lecturer in the History of English, University College London
Susan Z. Andrade, Associate Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh
Jonathan Arac, Director of the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh
Jennifer Davis, Faculty of Law and Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge
Alan Durant, Professor of Communication in the School of Law, Middlesex University, London
Philip Durkin, Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary
Matthew Eagleton-Pierce, Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy, SOAS, University of London
Stephen Heath, Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and Keeper of the Old Library
Colin MacCabe, Distinguished Professor of English and Film, University of Pittsburgh
Seth Mehl, Research Associate, School of English, University of Sheffield
Arjuna Parakrama, Senior Professor of English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Kellie Robertson, Associate Professor of English, University of Maryland
Holly Yanacek, Assistant Professor of German, James Madison University


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