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Writings of the Luddites

, 312 pages

6 halftones

April 2015



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Writings of the Luddites

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.

Kevin Binfield is a professor of English at Murray State University.

"Think what I might have accomplished... if I hadn't had my nose buried in Writings of the Luddites."

"This work shines not just as a collection on an important topic but more generally as an artisanal guide to the art and mystery of archival research."

"The first anthology of its kind, this collection is meticulously edited and carefully documented.... Writings of the Luddites is a welcome addition to the corpus of scholarly work that addresses machine-breaking in England."

"This volume makes available and accessible a wealth of textual and cultural information that has been overlooked for far too long by literary scholars and cultural historians alike."

"The book has been and will continue to be of use to scholars of Romantic and working class literatures and to historians of labour relations, class, the Home Office, Luddism, regional cultures, protest, Industrial Revolutions, capitalism, and technology. It could be used just for its collection of hard-to-access Luddite primary texts, but its extensive introductory material is extremely useful for it provision of both context and argument."

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