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585 Reading Interests of Adults Cultural Theory and Popular Culture

Image credit: Victor GAD. 585 Reading Interests of Adults Cultural Theory and Popular Culture . Marija Dalbello Rutgers School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies dalbello@scils.rutgers.edu http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~dalbello. What is Cultural Studies?

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585 Reading Interests of Adults Cultural Theory and Popular Culture

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  1. Image credit: Victor GAD 585 Reading Interests of Adults Cultural Theory and Popular Culture Marija Dalbello Rutgers School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies dalbello@scils.rutgers.edu http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~dalbello

  2. What is Cultural Studies? • ______________________ • Study of culture (rather than society) • Progressive, radical, and omnipresent in arts, humanities, social sciences, science & technology

  3. What is Culture? • ______________________ • Social behavior; material culture; cultural texts and practices; shared fantasies • Tylor (1871): Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. • Kroeber lists 300+ definitions of culture.

  4. What is Culture? ______________________ Mead (1960s): Culture is a learned behavior of a society or a subgroup. Williams (1970s): Culture includes the organization of production, the structure of the family, the structure of institutions which express or govern social relationships, the characteristic forms through which members of the society communicate. Geertz (1980s): Culture is simply the ensemble of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

  5. What is the Subject of Cultural Studies? • ______________________ • Subject area not clearly defined; all-inclusive notion of culture and study of a range of practices • Principles, theories and methods are eclectic • Distinct history of cultural studies

  6. What is the Subject of Cultural Studies? • ______________________ • Principles, theories and methods from social sciences disciplines, the humanities and the arts adapted to the purposes of cultural analysis • Methodologies diverse: textual analysis, ethnography, psychoanalysis, survey research, etc.

  7. Discipline or • Anti-discipline? • ______________________ • Cultural studies impossible to define: collective term for diverse and contentious intellectual endeavors; many theoretical and political positions • Includes established and radical disciplines, political activism and modes of inquiry (critical theory) • Anti-discipline; not institutionalized

  8. Historical background • ______________________ • Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) est. 1964 • Working Papers in Cultural Studies (1972) • Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, Stuart Hall • Working-class background; role of popular culture in class-based society in England

  9. R. Hoggart & R. Williams______________________ • Working class intellectuals • The culture of common people (working class culture) seen as more authentic than middle- and upper-class culture; derives from experience • Against canonical élitism (high culture) • Interest in active appropriation of cultural forms & class struggle in the cultural arena • Mass culture seen as ‘colonizing’ working class culture; packaged for passive absorption by the cultural industry producers But what to do?

  10. R. Hoggart • ______________________ • Founder of CCCS • The Uses of Literacy (1957) programmatic work; parts of it written as a manifesto • Problem: working classes excluded from participation and dissemination of their cultural forms and practices • Cultural struggle over legitimacy and cultural status of forms and practices • Critical reading of art needs to reveal the ‘felt quality of life’ of a society; art captures the experience of the everyday as the unique

  11. R. Williams • ______________________ • Marxist tradition • Culture is an expression of the coherence of organic communities resisting determinism in its various forms • Culture: material, intellectual and spiritual (base and superstructure) • Centrality of the culture of everyday life (texts that capture “the structure of feeling” of everyday life, the sense of an époque) - not only validates such culture and its study but validates its production and gives it a status of insight into the dynamics of society’s struggle

  12. Goals of Cultural Studies ______________________ 1. Examine cultural practices in their relationship to power; how power shapes these practices. 2. Culture is studied in the social and political context in which its forms manifest themselves. 3. Culture is both object of study and vehicle for changing political consciousness through this understanding (scholarly & pragmatic). 4. Reconcile division between tacit / universal knowledge; validation of experience (local knowledge) in addition to generally shared forms of knowledge. 5. Moral evaluation of modern society and means for radical action.

  13. What is Cultural Studies? • Study of relations between social relations and meanings (how social divisions are made meaningful) • Culture is terrain on which ideological representations of class, gender, race are enforced, and contested by social groups validating their experience • Hegemony • operates in the realm of representations and consciousness • implies power inequality in different segments of society • naturalizes a class ideology and renders it in the form of common sense • exercised through ‘authority,’ not physical force • operates through institutions (educational system, media and the family) • Cultural studies focus on analysis of cultural forms and their meaning in the context of power relations in society

  14. Culture as Site of Class Struggle ______________________ • Gramsci (1891-1937) • Hegemony: how society is bound together without the use of force under the moral and intellectual leadership of the ruling classes

  15. Hegemony ______________________ • Hegemony relies on negotiation & consent • Intellectuals forge consent in the interest of the ruling class • Competing classes achieve a ‘compromise equilibrium’ • Culture as key site of struggle of competing interests • Popular culture is an arena of resistance but also of enforcing hegemony • Paradoxically, the sphere of culture perceived as non-political although it is a conduit for hegemonic representations

  16. Theories and Theorists in Cultural Studies • ______________________ • Culture and civilisation (Matthew Arnold; Leavisism) canon • Culturalism (Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart, Stuart Hall) authenticity • Structuralism (Ferdinand de Saussure,Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes) signs; unconscious foundations; signification • Post-Structuralism; Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Edward Said) meaning is process • Marxism (Classical; the Frankfurt School, Althusserian; neo-Gramscian; Bakhtin) cultural texts reflect how society is organized • Feminism (Janice Radway) constructing identity through consumption • Post-modernism (Jameson, Baudrillard) revolt against modernism

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