American Studies | Seminar in American Studies / Topics: Cultural Studies & Everyday Life
G620 | 17254 | Ted Striphas

(4 cr.) Jointly offered with CMCL-C793 CULS-C701

This advanced graduate seminar is about everyday life as both
problem and possibility for cultural politics.  On the one hand, the
humdrum routines associated with everyday life—waking, bathing,
working, eating, consuming, playing, and resting every single day—
can threaten to stifle creative forms of human expression and foster
complacency.  On the other hand, as Michel de Certeau, Henri
Lefebvre, and others affirm, these very same routines also can be
resources from which innovation might flow, to the extent that they
present opportunities for doing the same thing all over again—but
differently.  To explore this tension, this course will address four
principal questions: what is everyday life? how does everyday life
enable and constrain political action? in what ways has cultural
studies engaged everyday life? and how might it continue to do so in
ways that resist the field’s becoming intellectually and politically
unimaginative—its becoming, in the banal sense, everyday?

Roughly the first third of this seminar will be dedicated to
exploring specific theories and practices of everyday life.
Thereafter, we will investigate how the field of cultural studies
can find itself subjected to everyday life’s deadening routines.  We
will focus on the problem of cultural studies’ institutionalization,
particularly on the politics of the field’s having impacted
University curricula and administrative structures over the last 30
years or so.  We also will focus on cultural studies’ growing
internationalization, a move which, paradoxically, seems both to
reify and to challenge its dominant, U.S. and British formations.
Ultimately, our aim will be to think through the conditions
necessary to reinvent the project of cultural studies for the 21st
century—a more imaginative, effective, and globally relevant
cultural studies which, with any luck, might help to reinvigorate
everyday life as both theoretical category and domain of human

Books are likely to include: Tony Bennett’s Culture: A Reformer’s
Science; Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life, vol. I;
Michael E. Gardiner, Critiques of Everyday Life; Ben Highmore (ed.)
The Everyday Life Reader; Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday
Life, vol. II; Henri Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis; Virginia Nightengale,
Studying Audiences: The Shock of the Real; and Bill Reading’s The
University in Ruins.

We also will read essays by Ien Ang, Tony Bennett, Kuan-Hsing Chen,
Rita Felski, Nicholas Garnham, Lawrence Grossberg, Stuart Hall,
Agnes Heller, Michèle Mattelart, Meaghan Morris, Naoki Sakai,
Gregory J. Seigworth, Ted Striphas, and Raymond Williams, and
possibly others.