The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott
This film focuses on the work of the Marxist historian Edward Palmer Thompson, who, from 1946, was employed by the Workers’ Education Association to teach literature and social history to adults in industrial towns. These classes were open to people who had been unable to access a university education. Thompson became synonymous with the discipline of ‘cultural studies’ that emerged in Post-War Britain. Fowler’s film explores the issues that were at stake for progressive educationalists. Many desired to use their teaching to create ‘revolu- tionaries’ and pursue a ‘socially purposeful’ education. The film draws together archival material from television (not in the least from Marc Karlin’s For Memory, see p.65), from local sources and the Workers’ Education Association archive itself, and combines them with new film and audio gathered on location in the former West Riding region of Yorkshire. Fowler worked in collaboration with filmmaker Peter Hutton, writer/ filmmaker George Clark and composers Ben Vida and Richard Youngs.
The Country and the City
As a brilliant survey of English literature in terms of changing attitudes towards country and city, Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City reveals the shifting images and associations between these two traditional poles of life throughout the major developmental periods of English culture. Two films were inspired by or based on the book: So That You Can Live (For Shirley) by Cinema Action (see p.67) and The Country and the City by Mike Dibb. Williams’s book starts from an analysis of country-house poems in the 1600s and 1700s, and he contrasts these poems, full of praise for these great houses, with the actual damage done by their owners to the countryside. The film explores contrasting ideas of country and city, challenging assumed values of the country as natural and demonstrating the labour necessary to maintain the apparent gentility of a country estate.