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Keywords Reading List

Keywords: The Words We Use and The Ways We Use Them, 2019/20, Semester 1
Professor Tony Crowley
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue



For this course you will need the following texts:

Bennett, Tony, Lawrence Grossberg, Meaghan Morris (eds.), New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005).

Knowles, Elizabeth, How to Read a Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Williams, Raymond, Keywords (London: Fourth Estate, 2014).

In addition, a good general introduction is Stamper, Kory, Word by word : the secret life of dictionaries ISBN: 9781101970263, New York: Pantheon, 2017.

You will need to do weekly reading and seminar prep; the prep is indicated on the VLE and you are expected to bring it to class. For the weekly reading, apart from the three required texts, selections from all titles marked with * will be available on the VLE. Full versions of the seventeenth century texts are accessible in the Early English Books Online archive; eighteenth century texts can be found in the Eighteenth Century Collections Online archive; both archives are available through the University Library.


1. The right to be offended.

John Stuart Mill, ‘Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion’, On liberty (1869).*

David Bromwich, ‘What are we allowed to say?’, The London review of books. ISSN: 0260-9592, vol. 38, no. 18.*

Dominic Fifield, ‘Rio Ferdinand charged with misconduct over “gender” tweet’, The Guardian., 14th October 2014*.

2. Words and the way we use them.

 George Orwell, ‘Politics and the English Language’, in The English language, vol. 2, ed

W.F. Bolton and D. Crystal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).*   

George Monbiot , ‘Cleansing the Stock’, The Guardian., 21st October 2014.*

3. Choosing your words carefully.

David Bromwich, ‘Euphemism and American Violence’, New York Review of Books. ISSN: 0028-7504, 3rd April 2005.*

Patrick Coburn, ‘Weasel words that politicians use to obscure terrible truths’, The Independent on Sunday, 14th October 2012.*

Stephen Poole, ‘Gaza and the language of modern war’, The Guardian., 8th August 2014.*

4. The OED: how to use it.

Elizabeth Knowles, How to read a word ISBN: 9780199574896 (acid-free paper); 0199574898 (acid-free paper) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

The Oxford English Dictionary (available online through via the Library).

5. Meanings

V.N.Voloshinov, ‘Theme and Meaning in Language’, in Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, trans. L. Matejka and I. Titunik (London: Seminar Press, 1973).*

Raymond Williams, (from) ‘Introduction’ to Keywords (London: Fourth Estate, 2014) and selected words: ‘Community’, ‘History’, ‘Humanity’, ‘Personality’, Underprivileged’.*

6. A keyword.

Tony Bennett et al: (from) New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Oxford:Blackwell, 2005), ‘Race’. *

8. Innocuous words.

Oxford English Dictionary and Green’s Dictionary of Slang entries for: ‘Bad’, ‘Belly’, ‘Bully’, ‘Bird’, ‘Carry’, ‘Jump’. (Green’s Dictionary of Slang is available online via the Library).

9. More innocuous words.

Oxford English Dictionary entries for: ‘Lady’, ‘Governess’, ‘Miss’, ‘Mistress’, ‘Abbess’, ‘Academician’, ‘Nun’, ‘Wife’, ‘Niece’, ‘Aunt’, ‘Mother’, ‘Sister’, ‘Housewife’

10. Authority: says who?

Thomas Harman, A caueat for commen cursetors vvlgarely called uagabones, set forth by Thomas Harman, esquier, for the vtilite and proffyt of hys naturall countrey. Newly agmented and imprinted Anno Domini. M.D.LXUII. Vewed, examined and allowed, according vnto the Queenes Maiestyes iniunctions [microform] (1567)*; Robert Cawdry, A Table Alphabeticall (1604)*; Francis Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785)*; James Hardy Vaux, ‘A Vocabulary of the Flash Language’, in Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, written by himself ISBN: 9781375571128 (1819)*; J.C. Hotten, The Slang Dictionary (1860)*; Urban dictionary

11. Your words.

Bring your own language.

This list was last updated on 04/09/2018