skip to main content


Vol.7, Issue 2, 2021, pp. 245-260 Full text

Crossmark logo

Web of Science: 000737013000007

Younes Poorghorban

Affiliation: University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Iran

Tony Harrison is a contemporary British author whose poetry is highly influential in encountering the issue of identity and class struggles. As a working-class student, Harrison was subject to prejudice and discrimination for his working-class accent. This paper investigates two of his highly admired poems, "On Not Being Milton" and "Them & (uz)" from a cultural standpoint, mainly concentrated on John Fiske's theory of power and language. The role of language in the context of his poems is probed. The multiaccentuality of language is represented in his poetry and these two poems become the site of struggle for the imperialising and the localising power. It is intended to illuminate the sought space of identity which Harrison is constantly referring to as a member of the English working-class society. Lastly, the social and personal relationship between Harrison and Milton has been explored positing Harrison in a transcendental context in his relationship with Milton.

Keywords: Tony Harrison, Cultural Studies, On Not Being Milton, Them & (uz), Imperialising Power

Article history:
Submitted: 19 July 2021
Reviewed: 20 September 2021
Accepted: 30 November 2021
Published: 30 December 2021

Citation (APA):
Poorghorban, Y. (2021). Counter Class and Counter Identity: Confrontations of Power in Tony Harrison's Poetry. English Studies at NBU, 7(2), 245-260.

Copyright © 2021 Younes Poorghorban

This open access article is published and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. If you want to use the work commercially, you must first get the authors' permission.

Abrams, M. H., & Harpham, G. G. (2015). A Glossary of Literary Terms. Cengage Learning.

Ashcroft, B. (2013). Post-Colonial Transformation. Taylor and Francis.

Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (2010). The empire writes back: Theory and practice in post-colonial literatures. Routledge.

Bakhtin, M. M., Medvedev, P. N., Vološinov, V. N., Morris, P., & Roberts, G. (2003). The Bakhtin reader: Selected writings of Bakhtin, Medvedev, and Voloshinov. Arnold.

Bower, R., & Blakesley, J. (2018). Tony Harrison: International Man of Letters. English Studies, 99(1), 1-5.

Copley, H. (2018). From Baghdad to Sarajevo to Beeston: The War Poetry of Tony Harrison. English Studies, 99(1), 19-33.

Donnelly, M., Baratta, A., & Gamsu, S. (2019). A Sociolinguistic Perspective on Accent and Social Mobility in the UK Teaching Profession. Sociological Research Online, 24(4), 496-513.

Ferguson, M. W., Salter, M. J., & Stallworthy, J. (2005). The Norton anthology of poetry. W.W. Norton.

Fiske, J. (1989). Reading the popular. Routledge.

Fiske, J. (2011). Understanding popular culture. Routledge.

Fiske, J., & Hancock, B. H. (2016). Power plays power works. Routledge.

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge. a selected interviews and other writings 1972-77. Pantheon Books.

Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality, volume 1: An introduction. Vintage Books.

Gay, P. D., & Hall, S. (2013). Questions of cultural identity. Sage.

Handley, A. G. (2016). On (Not) Being Milton: Tony Harrison's Liminal Voice. Text Matters, (6), 276-290.

Harrison, T. (1978). From the school of eloquence: And other poems. R. Collings.

Houdu, L. (2017). A voice for the voiceless: Tony Harrison's poetic memory. Rencontres des jeunes chercheurs en Sciences du Langage, 15(5). 1-16.

Jameson, F. (1993). On "Cultural Studies". Social Text, (34), 17-52.

Johnson, R. (1986). What Is Cultural Studies Anyway? Social Text, (16), 38-80.

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Brank. In dictionary. Retrieved January 1, 2021, from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Bugger. In dictionary. Retrieved January 1, 2021, from

Roberts, N. (2007). Poetry and class: Tony Harrison, Peter Reading, Ken Smith, Sean O'Brien. In N. Corcoran (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century English Poetry (pp. 215–229). Cambridge University Press.

Whale, J. (2018). Tony Harrison: The Making of a Post-War English Poet. English Studies, 99(1), 6-18.

Williams, R. (1977). Marxism and literature. Oxford University Press.

Williams, R. (2017). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. Oxford University Press.

Wolfreys, J. (2006). Modern British and Irish criticism and theory: A critical guide. Edinburgh University Press.


1. Reviewer's name: Undisclosed
Review Content: Undisclosed
Review Verified on Publons

2. Reviewer's name: Undisclosed
Review Content: Undisclosed
Review Verified on Publons

Handling Editor: Stan Bogdanov
Verified Editor Record on Publons

Article Metrics