chapter  1
Pages 6

The English, like any other society, had forms of ‘cultural studies’ long before the term was coined. Dr Johnson’s first Dictionary of the English Language was an idiosyncratic venture into providing a lexicon of English habits and rituals, while eighteenth-century writers such as Hazlitt, Addison, Steele and Mary Wollstonecraft tried to come to terms with the nuances of political and everyday life as they saw it from their privileged positions; the historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle, the Scots sociologist Adam Ferguson, the French travelling critic Alexis de Tocqueville, the poet and antinomian rationalist William Blake, John Stuart Mill, the critical political economist of liberal identity and the poet and literary critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge provided a span of ideas to account for the culture of the English at the beginning of the nineteenth century; while, throughout that century, an ongoing array of novelists, theologians, historians, poets, essayists, art critics and dramatists tried to peel away the various layers of the culture. In particular, Matthew Arnold, Walter Bage-hot, John Ruskin and William Morris addressed the issues of industrialization, democracy, literacy and artistic value. Equally, by examining other cultures, anthropologists and archaeologists told us as much about the dominating values of their own society as they did about those they were investigating. The diaries, letters, poems and novels of women (mostly of upper-class background) sketched out a potential feminist cultural studies, while the voices of blacks, convicts and workingmen are to be found in the letters and songs that were distributed widely across the empire.