Cultural Studies | Introduction to Cultural Studies
C601 | 6833 | Samantrai


This course is cross-listed between English and Cultural Studies and
meets the core requirement for the Ph.D. minor in Cultural Studies.
It is open to all interested students.

In this introduction to cultural theory we will focus on the
foundational texts and intellectual history of contemporary cultural
studies.  Beginning with the Frankfurt School’s turn toward cultural
Marxism, we will proceed to the Birmingham Center for Cultural
Studies’ incorporation of structuralism, and thence to the challenge
of poststructuralism.  We will then trace the legacy of this early
history in the debate between post-Marxism and theories of the
public sphere that informs many contemporary investigations of
culture.  As we follow the trajectory of late nineteenth- and early
twentieth-century breaks with Cartesian humanism to the anti-
humanism of subsequent theories of subjectivity, we will ask how the
latter have influenced analyses of popular and expressive cultural
practices.  How is culture defined and what is its relationship to
economic and political structures? How are cultural meanings
produced, circulated and consumed?  What is the relationship between
high, mass and popular cultural productions?  How do cultural
formations produce patterns of individuated subjectivity and social
relationships, and how do we think about agency?  With such
questions to guide us, we will examine both the methods and the
objects of cultural studies scholarship.

Assignments likely will include two short essays and a class
presentation.  We may close the semester with a look at some
contemporary scholarship chosen by students.  Primary readings will
be drawn from the following list:

Marx, The German Ideology
Theodore Adorno, The Culture Industry
Louis Althusser, from For Marx
Walter Benjamin, from Illuminations
Antonio Gramsci, from The Prison Notebooks
Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature
Stuart Hall, et al., Policing the Crisis
Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, v.1
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life
Jürgen Habermas, Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics
Giorgio Agamben State of Exception
Arjun Appadurai, Fear of Small Numbers

Further essays by Clifford Geertz, Matthew Arnold, Ferdinand de
Saussure, and others.