By Erica R. Edwards

About Erica R. Edwards

Erica R. Edwards is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is an expert in African American literature and culture and the author of Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership(2012).


While it is indeed cliché to argue that every book is a collective effort, it is certainly the case where anthologies are concerned. In grateful acknowledgment of the collective process that has yielded this volume, we wish to thank the following people. Eric Zinner has been an exemplary editor, providing support for this volume throughout our time with it. Associate editor Lisha Nadkarni and editorial assistant Dolma Ombadykow have been attentive facilitators of the project as well. We would also like to express our gratitude to the anonymous readers for their careful and detailed engagement. Our deep and heartfelt thanks must go to our brilliant and impeccable research assistant, Sarah Buckner. It is not an exaggeration to say that we can honestly divide our experience with this volume in terms of “before” and “after” her engagement with it. Most of all we wish to thank our colleagues—­the contributors—­whose dedication and …


When Raymond Williams embarked on his famous Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, it was to document a major transformation in collective values and interests in the post–­World War II world. This was a world in flux, in which the meanings of culture were undergoing a swift change and in which, perhaps more importantly, terms that had circulated almost exclusively in the specialized domains of academic fields were circulating beyond university discourses. Keywords, then, was an attempt “to understand several urgent contemporary problems—­problems quite literally of understanding [the] contemporary world” (Raymond Williams 1983, 13). What it offered was “not the specialized vocabulary of a specialized discipline . . . but a general vocabulary,” a collection of words in everyday circulation, words that were used “to discuss many of the central processes of our common life” (14). In the tradition of Williams’s paradigmatic text and the …

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