Inspiration: Keywords.

Whenever I’m feeling tripped up in my thinking and writing, I can always rely on Raymond Williams’s Keywords to jump-start some ideas. This amazing guide to some of the most complex and freighted words in our society never fails to teach me something new, or to point out an important analytical issue with which I should grapple. It helped me conceptualize my dissertation (which deals with some pretty weighty concepts, like modernity, development, and progress), and it continues to keep me on my toes. Its dictionary structure makes it easy to dip into as needed, and its notes on etymology, changing uses, and meanings is always a welcome reminder of the fluidity of language and the importance of culture. It’s a book that should be on every thinking person’s bookshelf. Wonderful stuff.

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