From Preface to Film (UK, 1954)

Raymond Williams wrote this manifesto as he was trying to raise money from the British Film Institute to make his first film, after attempting to write a screenplay for a documentary on agriculture for Paul Rotha. Coauthored with Michael Orrom in 1954 (they each wrote separate chapters), and self-published by the two authors, the book from which these excerpts are drawn is quite off the radar in film studies and cultural studies, as well as in examinations of Williams’s work. This neglect is perplexing, especially since this is the work in which Williams first elucidates one of his best-known concepts: the “structure of feeling.” In coining this key term of his critical practice, Williams also makes a case for film as “total expression,” arguing that the “structure of feeling” can be best understood through the cinema because of its ability to draw on and in some cases supersede the best aspects of the dramatic tradition.