Writings of the Luddites

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JHU Press, May 10, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 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 their often violent protests, the Luddites also engaged in literary resistance in the form of poems, proclamations, petitions, songs, and letters. In Writings of the Luddites, 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.

Binfield’s extensive introduction provides a historical overview of the Luddites and their activities, explores their rhetorical strategies, and illuminates their literary context. Written for the most part from a collective point of view, the texts themselves 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.

 

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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

Contents

Introduction
1
Midlands Luddism
19
Northwestern Luddism
32
Yorkshire Luddism
47
Midlands Documents
69
Northwestern Documents
167
Yorkshire Documents
199
Notes
239
Bibliography
267
Index
273
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

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

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