Communication and Culture | Studies in Contemporary Communication (Introduction to Cultural Studies)
C626 | 16486 | Striphas, T

CMCL-C 626: Studies in Contemporary Communication
(Topic: Introduction to Cultural Studies)
Class Number: 16486

W, 9:30 AM-12:00 PM, C2 272

Course fulfills requirement for Ph.D. minor in Cultural Studies

Meets with CULS-C 601
Open to Graduates Only!

Instructor: Ted Striphas
Office: C2 213
Phone: 856-7868

The prospect of [introducing] cultural studies is a daunting task
(or, at least, it should be).

– J. Macgregor Wise, “Cultural Studies in Words and Pictures”

This course introduces you to cultural studies, a diverse
intellectual formation committed broadly to producing theoretically
informed and politically engaged scholarship.  Because cultural
studies tends to shift in relation to specific geo-historical
conditions, intellectual problems, and political concerns, many who
are new to the field (and even some veterans, for that matter) find
it difficult to pin down.  Indeed, the question “What is cultural
studies?” has been posed countless times, yet rarely has it yielded
satisfying or enduring answers.  There’s something about cultural
studies that seems to resist definitional closure, which makes the
task of introducing the field, as J. Macgregor Wise
observes, “daunting” for all involved.

Rather than trying to settle once and for all what cultural studies
is, this course embraces the field’s open-endedness by stressing its
ongoing reconstitution in practice. Thus, “What does cultural
studies do?” will be our organizing motif.  What’s so important
about this question is that it enjoins us to take stock of specific
formations of cultural studies while remaining sensitive to its
larger project.  It also encourages us to widen our frame of
reference to encompass the signifying systems, material coordinates,
and historical conjunctures out of which particular cultural studies
practices have emerged.

This is a course not only about cultural studies (its theories,
methods, key figures, debates, etc.), therefore, but also about the
field’s conditions of possibility.  It proceeds primarily through a
close reading and detailed discussion of primary works by scholars
who’ve been at the forefront of inventing and reinventing cultural
studies, with an eye towards situating their writings in determinate

The reading list likely will include selections from Giorgio
Agamben, Louis Althusser, Ien Ang, Tony Bennett, Homi Bhabha, Pierre
Bourdieu, Judith Butler, James Carey, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Michel de
Certeau, Michel Foucault, Paul Gilroy, Antonio Gramsci, Lawrence
Grossberg, Stuart Hall, Richard Hoggart, Henry Jenkins, Doreen
Massey, Toby Miller, Meaghan Morris, Angela McRobbie, Henri
Lefebvre, Edward Said, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jennifer Daryl Slack,
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Carolyn Steedman, E.P. Thompson, and
Raymond Williams, among possible others.  There will be only one
required text: Lawrence Grossberg, Cultural Studies in the Future
Tense (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011; ISBN-13: 978-

Although this class ostensibly is about cultural studies, it is, in
the end, really about the urgency of developing rigorous
intellectual work that can help us to respond more effectively to
the numerous political challenges—neoliberalism, neo-conservatism,
and globalization, to name only a few—of our time.  Otherwise, to
tell you the truth, we shouldn’t really care about cultural studies,
what it is, and what it does or doesn’t do.