Named for their probably mythical leader, Ned Ludd, the Luddites were a group of social agitators in nineteenth-century Britain who tried to prevent the mechanization of cloth factories, which they blamed for increased unemployment, poverty, and hunger in industrial centers. Though famous for the often violent protests they organized, the Luddites also engaged in literary resistence in the form of poems, proclamations, petitions, songs, and letters. In this volume, literary scholar Kevin Binfield collects complete texts written by Luddites or Luddite sympathizers between 1811 and 1816, adds detailed notes, and organizes the documents by the three primary regions of origin: the Midlands, Northwestern England, and Yorkshire.
In an extensive introduction to the texts, Binfield provides a historical overview for those unfamiliar with the particulars of the Luddites and their activities, while also exploring their rhetorical strategies and illuminating their literary context. Written for the most part from a collective point of view, the writings range from judicious to bloodthirsty in tone and reveal a fascination both with legal forms of address and with the more personal forms of Romantic literature, as well as with the recent political revolutions in France and America. By bringing together diverse texts, the true meaning and value of Luddite writings can be analyzed and assessed. As such, this anthology, which features a foreword by Adrian Randall of the University of Birmingham, will be an ideal reference for scholars of rhetoric and the history of labor, technology and society.
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Murray State University English professor Binfield amasses a wealth of original documents from the period 1811 to 1817, including articulate public appeals for higher wages and proscriptions against labor-saving industrial machinery, semi-literate death threats against employers who paid no heed ...| Read Full Review of Writings of the Luddites
Given Binfield's emphasis upon the connection between experience and language, it is both odd and surprising that he appears to be unfamiliar with the seminal work of "postmodern" historians such as Gareth Stedman Jones and Patrick Joyce, whose work sought to address the critical relationship amo...| Read Full Review of Writings of the Luddites
Throughout the editor's introduction and the collection Binfield emphasizes the ways in which Luddite writers selectively appropriated a variety of contemporary discourses to fashion their voices of resistance.| Read Full Review of Writings of the Luddites