The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott focuses on the work of the Marxist historian Edward Palmer Thompson, who, from 1946 (at the age of 24), was employed by the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) to teach literature and social history to adults in the industrial towns of the West Riding. These classes were open to people who historically had been unable to access a university education.
E.P. Thompson became synonymous with the discipline of ‘cultural studies’ that emerged in Post-War Britain, along with fellow left-wing critics Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart. Fowler’s film explores the issues that were at stake for progressive educationalists. Like Thompson, many desired to use their teaching to create ‘revolutionaries’ and pursue the original WEA values of delivering a ‘socially purposeful’ education. The film captures a moment of optimism, in which Thompson’s ideas for progressive education came together with those of the West Riding and its established tradition of political resistance and activism.
The film draws together archival material from television, 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. In realising this new commission, Fowler worked in collaboration with acclaimed American independent filmmaker Peter Hutton and Yorkshire-born writer/filmmaker George Clark. Composers Ben Vida and Richard Youngs.
The Poor Stockinger, The Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott is commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Film and Video Umbrella, through the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award for Museums: commission to collect (2010). Supported by Arts Council England.