Writings of the Luddites

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Kevin Binfield
JHU Press, May 10, 2004 - History - 279 pages
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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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Writings of the Luddites

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The Luddites have been appropriated by Marxist historians as pioneers of working-class self-awareness and by latter-day technophobes as early rebels against a dehumanizing machine civilization. This ... Read full review


Midlands Luddism
Northwestern Luddism
Yorkshire Luddism
Midlands Documents
Northwestern Documents
Yorkshire Documents

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About the author (2004)

Kevin Binfield is an associate professor of English at Murray State University.

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