This volume offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of language in relation to the subject of history. The British and American contributors put forward the idea that language is a broadly based means of communication with contested and consensual meanings, and that such meanings must be revealed and evaluated by precise historical contextualisation of language and proper attention to established rules of historical method. The essays contend that the connections between the linguistic and the social must be rethought. The book aims to move beyond the unproductive fragmentation and relativism, the narrow textual range and the literal and anti-realist readings of the postmodern ’linguistic turn’ to offer a rigorous approach to the study of language and the subject of history.
'This book is an interesting addition to a growing volume of literature which provides a salutary rebuttal of postmodernist academic imperialism.' Labour History Review, Vol. 64, No. 1 '…this collection demonstrates that labour history should not be seen as trapped in a time warp of ’old fashioned’ concerns…the authors…build on a long-standing interest in language and identity, pioneered by historians such as E. P. Thompson, and to develop this further by re-thinking the complex relationship between discourse, culture, political identities and socio-economic structures…Urban economic and social historians, as well as labour historians, should find plenty to interest them in this book….' Urban History, Vol. 26, No. 2
Contents: Introduction, John Belchem and Neville Kirk; Part One: Theory: Postmodernism as theory and history, Richard Price; Language and contestation: the case of ’the People’, 1832 to the present, Eileen Janes Yeo; Part Two: Gender: Fractured universality: the language of British socialism before the First World War, Karen Hunt; ’A bit of mellifluous phraseology’: the 1922 railroad shopcraft strike and the living wage, Susan Levine; Part Three: Community and workplace: ’An accent exceedingly rare’: scouse and the inflexion of class, John Belchem; Workplace gossip: management myths in further education, Melanie Tebbutt; Part Four: Labour movements: A new language for labour? W. Jett Lauck and the American version of social democracy, Leon Fink; Political identities in the West Virginia and South Wales coalfields, 1900-1922, Roger Fagge; Index.