C601 - Introduction to Cultural Studies

Instructor: John Louis Lucaites

Last Taught: Spring 1997


This is an introductory level course in cultural studies. Generally considered, cultural studies refers to the notion that the study of cultural processes (the production, circulation, and use of cultural artifacts), especially, though not exclusively, in the context of what is referred to as "popular culture," is theoretically and politically important to an active and productive understanding of the ways in which "power" and "influence" manifest themselves in a social and/or political order. That said, the phrase "cultural studies" is an extremely contested one in contemporary public and academic discourse, and our primary goal in this course will be to examine the range of ways in which we might understand its meaning and attendant implications for how we theorize, interpret, and critique cultural practices. The course will be organized into three primary sections. In the first section we will examine some of the historical roots of cultural studies, primarily in the American and British contexts, with an eye to developing what Foucault might call an "intellectual genealogy" for its practice. In the second section of the course we will examine a number of theoretical and methodological problems and issues that have occupied the concerns of those working in the area of cultural studies over the past twenty-five years. In the final section of the course we will examine four representative, full-length cultural studies as a means of evaluating and assessing how such theoretical and methodological problems are negotiated in situ. By the end of the semester class participants should feel comfortable discussing the problems and issues central to those operating under the rubric of cultural studies, as well as to putting their own scholarly work into a critical and theoretical dialogue with a cultural studies perspective.

TEXTBOOKS

Note: The books listed below are all required reading for the course. They can all be purschased as either the IMU or TIS Bookstores. Those marked with an asterisk have been placed on reserve at the Main Library under the course title: CULS 601.

Adorno, Theodor and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Seabury Press, 1972. Orig. pub. 1944.

Arnold, Matthew. Culture and Anarchy. Ed. Samuel Lipman. New York: Yale University Press, 1994. Orig. pub. 1869.

Dow, Bonnie. Prime-Time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women's Movement Since 1970. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.*

Lutz, Catherine A., and Jane L. Collins, Reading National Geographic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.*

McLaughlin, Thomas. Street Smarts and Critical Theory: Listening to the Vernacular. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.*

Nelson, Cary and Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, eds. Disciplinarity and Dissent in Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1994.*

Turner, Graeme. British Cultural Studies. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society: 1780-1950. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. Orig. pub. 1958.

ASSIGNMENTS

As an introductory survey, CULS 601 is a reading intensive course. Each week you will be assigned approximately 175 pages of reading drawing from books and articles. All of the reading is required. Some of the reading assignments will be relatively straight forward and simple; others will be dense and complex. My assumption is that you will not merely read the materials, but that you will read them actively, which means that you will be prepared not only to interpret the meanings of the work you are reading, but that you will also be prepared to engage the material critically and argumentatively. Each of you comes to "cultural studies" from a particular discipline (e.g., history, communication, education, folklore, etc.) and I hope (and expect) that you will read the materials over-and-against the questions, problems, methods, and theories that animate your home discipline and the kinds of research and pedagogical problems that guide your own scholarly interests. The more we can integrate the voices of multiple disciplines and interests into our discussions the more productive they will be in helping us to generate a more complex and comprehensive sense of the problems and possibilities of cultural studies.

Because the course is reading intensive, writing assignments will be kept to a minimum as follows:

 

1. Weekly Position Papers. Each week during the first two sections of the course you will prepare a brief, 400 word (typed-double spaced) position paper on some aspect or dimension of the readings for the week. The purpose of these position papers is not to summarize the readings, but to identify and elaborate a "question" or "problem" posed by your interrogation of the materials you have read that might animate significant and interesting discussion apropos the topics of the class. We will begin each session by exchanging our position papers with another class member in order to get a sense of what others are thinking about the assigned material. I will also collect the position papers at the end of each class and briefly look them over before the next session. These essays will not be graded.

 

2. Collaborative Review. During the last section of the class we will turn our attention to four, full-length cultural studies that take up a variety of topics: cultural theory as it is produced and practiced in the vernacular, the culture of contemporary black music, the use of National Geographic magazine to constitute a sense of American national identity, and use of prime-time television to advance the cause(s) of feminism in the context of the women's movement from 1970 to the present. Early in the semester you will be paired with another member of the class and together the two of you will prepare a collaborative, critical review of the book lenght study under consideration. As with your weekly position papers, your critical review should not be a summary of the work under consideration, but rather an attempt to engage it critically in a way that animates significant and interesting concerns regarding the problems and problematics of cultural studies and how they implicate and affect the questions of power, ideology, identity, and the like. Your review (7-10 pp. + endnotes, references, etc., typed, double spaced) will be due in-class on the evening that we discuss the study you are reviewing. It will also be your collective task to "facilitate" the discussion of that work in-class. A more detailed description of this assignment will be handed out at the appropriate time. The collaborative review and facilitation will count 20% towards your final grade for the course.

3. Mid-term and Final Class Papers. You will write two short essays (10-12 pp. + endnotes, references, etc., typed, double spaced) based upon questions/topics that I will pose and will reflect class readings and discussions. I will hand out the first question/topic on 2/3, and it will be due in my mailbox in the Speech Communication Department no later than noon, 2/15. I will hand out the second question/topic on 3/31, and it will be due in-class on 4/28. Late papers will be penalized at the rate of 1/3 a grade per day late (i.e., a paper that would ordinarily earn an A- would be reduced to a B+, a B+ to a B, and so on). No outside reading will be necessary to complete these papers. Each essay will count for 40% of your final grade for the course.

4. Discussion List. As will become clear after the first few class meetings, the readings for each week will raise far more issues, problems, and concerns than can be effectively encountered and discussed in our weekly meetings. And more, even when we engage an issue or problem in class it may not be possible for us to deal with it in as much depth as we would like; in some instances we simply won't have the time to do it, and in other instances it will take more reading and reflection before we can get a firm(er) grasp on an issue or problem or to develop the point we want to make. Put simply, there is clearly a need for us to be able to extend (or presage) class discussions. In order to help us in this endeavor--as well as to discuss other issues or concerns that may emerge as the semester unfolds--I have set-up a computer list for the members of this class (lucaites_culs601@ majordomo.indiana.edu). I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the list frequently. (Note: When responding to a note on the list please do not use the "respond" command, but send your response to the list address. You should be able to create a nickname for the list that will eliminate the need to type the whole, long address everytime you want to speak to the list.)

GRADING

Grades will be assigned according to the following scale: A = 94-100; B = 84-89; C = 74-79; F = 73-60. In-between grades, such as 92, 81, etc. indicate indecision on my part and should be read as A-/B+, B-/C+. Your final grade for the course will be determined according to the weighting listed below: Collaborative Essay and Facilitation = 20%; Midterm Essay = 40%; Final Essay = 40%. I reserve the right to adjust final grades upward or downward by one increment (e.g., A to A+, or B to B-) on the basis of my subjective evaluation of your general class participation.

CONFERENCES

I am always available to graduate students between 8:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M. (except on Sundays and Tuesdays, which I reserve for my own writing). The trick, of course, is to find me. I will generally be in my office during the afternoon on MWF, and those are the best times to seek me out. If you are near the Speech Communication Building feel free just to stop by; if you are not near the building it is always a good idea to call first (5-5411) to make sure that I am in the office. If you need to see me at other times it is a good idea to make an appointment -- and do not be shy about asking for an appointment if you need one. Under NO circumstances (short of life and death emergencies) are you to call me at home (317-535-0719) before 8:00 A.M. or after 9:00 P.M. (or during IU basketball games!). I check e-mail frequently, and that is always a good way to get in touch with me (lucaites@indiana.edu).

COURSE CALENDAR

NOTE: Readings followed by an asterisk will be placed on 3 hour reserve in the Main Library under the course name: CULS 601. Those marked with a double asterisk will be handed out in-class.

 

Part I: Towards A (Partial) Intellectual Genealogy of Cultural Studies

1/13 Introduction to Cultural Studies -- Disciplinary, Multidisciplinary, or Anti-disciplinary Practice?

Read: Turner, "The Idea of Cultural Studies," British Cultural Studies, 11-37.

Nelson and Gaonkar, "Cultural Studies and the Politics of Disciplinarity: An Introduction," Disciplinarity and Dissent, 1-22.

Appadurai, "Diversity and Disciplinary as Cultural Artifacts," Disciplinarity and Dissent, 23-36.

1/20 "The Best That Has Been Thought and Said ..."

Read: Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, 3-142.

Marcus, "Culture and Anarchy Today," in Culture an Anarchy, 165-85.

Graff, "Arnold, Reason, and Common Culture," in Culture and Anarchy, 186- 201.

 

1/27 "From Enlightenment to Ideology"

Read: Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken, 1969, 217-51. Orig. pub. 1932.*

Benjamin, Walter. "The Author As Producer" in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms,Autobiographical Writings. Ed. Peter Demetz. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. New York; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978, 220-38. Orig. pub. 1937.*

Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, xi-42, 120-67.

 

2/3 "We Are Living Through A Long Revolution"

Read: Williams, Culture and Society: 1780-1950, ix-70, 110-29, 227-43, 265-84, 295-338.

Williams, Raymond. The Long Revolution: An Analysis of the Democratic, Industrial, and Cultural Changes Transforming Our Society. New

York: Columbia University Press, 1961. 41-71, 214-229.*

Turner, British Cultural Studies, 38-77.

 

2/10 "Crossing The Jordan"

This is the second year that the Cultural Studies Program is sponsoring an on-campus conference designed to "define" cultural studies at IU in terms of the specific workin which faculty and graduate students are engaged. The conference, titled "Crossing The Jordan," will take place on Friday and Saturday, February 7 and 8th in the Cultural Studies offices at the Smith Center. Lavish refreshments will be served. Attendance at this conference will take the place of our 2/10 meeting.

Note: Mid-term papers are due in my mailbox in the Speech Communication

Building by noon, Friday, February 15, 1997.

 

Part II: Theoretical and Methodological Problems and Issues in Contemporary Cultural Studies

2/17 Producing Meaning/Reading Texts and Contexts

Read: Turner, British Cultural Studies, 81-121.

Hall, Stuart. "Encoding/decoding." Culture, Media, Language. Eds. Stuart Hall, et al. London: Hutchinson/CCCS, 1980. 128-39.**

Fish, Stanley. "Interpreting the Variorum." Is There A Text in this Class. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980. 147-73.*

McGee, Michael Calvin. "A Radical Reading of 'Culture Industry' Productions." Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 1 (1984): 1-33.*

Foucault, Michel. "What is An Author?" Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977. 113-38.*

Treichler, "How To Use A Condom: Bedtime Stories For the Transcendental Signifier," Disciplinarity and Dissent, 347-96.

2/24 The Problem of Audience

Read: Turner, British Cultural Studies, 122-55.

Morley, David. Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge, 1992. 45-58, 75-130, 173-98.

Fiske, John. "Television: Polysemy and Popularity." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 4 (1986): 391-408.*

Condit, Celeste Michelle. "The Rhetorical Limits of Polysemy." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 6 (1989): 103-122.*

Ang, Ian. "Ethnography and Radical Contextualism in Audience Studies." The Audience and Its Landscape. Ed. James Hay, et al. Boulder: Westview, 1996. 235-47.*

3/3 Ethnography As Performance/Method/Critique

Read: Turner, British Cultural Studies, 156-66.

Conquergood, Dwight. "Rethinking Ethnography: Toward a Critical Cultural Politics." Communication Monographs 58 (1991): 179-94.*

Conquergood, Dwight. "Ethnography, Rhetoric, and Performance." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992): 80-97.*

Katriel, Tamar. "Our Future is Where Our Past Is: Studying Heritage Museums As Ideological and Performative Arenas." Communication Monographs 60 (1993): 69-75.*

Leeds-Hurwitz, Wendy. "On The Relationship of the 'Ethnography of Speaking' to the 'Ethnography of Communication'." Research on Language in Social Interaction 17 (1984): 7-32.*

Smith, Robert E. "Hymes, Rorty, and the Social-Rhetorical Construction of Meaning." College English 54 (1992): 138-58.*

Philipsen, Gerry. "A Theory of Speech Codes." Developing Communication Theories. Ed Terrance M. Albrecht. Albany: SUNY Press, in press.**

Condit, Celeste Michelle. "Complexity and the Genetic Revolution: A Public Ethnography of Social Change." POROI Symposium on Refiguring The Human Sciences: New Practices of Inquiry. Iowa City, Iowa: The University of Iowa, June 22-24, 1995.**

 

NOTE: Celeste Michelle Condit will present the J. Jeffrey Auer Lecture in Political Communication on March 6, 1996, time and place tba. The title of her presentation is "Polysemy, Persuasion and Social Change: The Case of the Discourse of Medical Genetics." Attendance is required.

 

3/10 Ideology, Hegemony, and Articulation

Turner, British Cultural Studies, 182-214.

Hall, Stuart. "The Problem of Ideology: Marxism Without Guarantees," Journal of Communication Inquiry 10 (1986): 28-44.*

Hall, Stuart, et al., Policing The Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1978. vii-x, 3-28, 327-99.*

Slack, Jennifer Daryl. "The Theory and Method of Articulation in Cultural Studies." Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. Eds. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen. London: Routledge, 1996. 112-30.*

McGee, Michael Calvin. "The "Ideograph": A Link Between Rhetoric and Ideology." Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (1980): 1-17.*

McGee, Michael Calvin. "The Origins of 'Liberty': A Feminization of Power." Communication Monographs 47 (1980): 23-45.*

3/17 No Class -- Spring Break

3/24 Towards A Cultural Politics

Read: Turner, British Cultural Studies, 215-35.

 

Lee, "Between Nations and Disciplines," Disciplinarity and Dissent, 217-35. Penley, "From NASA to The 700 Club: Cultural Studies in the Public Sphere," Disciplinarity and Dissent, 235-50.

Hanchard, Michael. "Cultural Politics and Black Public Intellectuals,"Disciplinarity and Dissent, 251-64.

Denning, Michael. "Culture and the Crisis: The Political and Intellectual Origins of Cultural Studies in the United States," Disciplinarity and Dissent, 265-89.

Berlant, Lauren. "The Face of America and the State of Emergency,"Disciplinarity and Dissent, 397-440.

Giroux, Henry A. "Living Dangerously: Identity Politics and the New Cultural Racism." Between Borders: Pedagogy and the Politics of Cultural Studies. Eds. Henry A. Giroux and Peter McLaren. New York: Routledge, 1994. 29-55.*

Wander, Philip. "Marxism, Post-Colonialism, and Rhetorical Contextualization." Quarterly Journal of Speech, 82 (1996): 402-35.*

 

Part III: Representative Book Length Cultural Studies

3/31 Reading the Vernacular in Cultural Theory

Read: McLaughlin, Street Smarts and Critical Theory*

 

Note: Class will begin at 7:00 P.M. this evening.


4/7 The Culture of Music

Read: Rose, Black Noise*

 

NOTE: Professor Gerry Philipsen will be speaking at 4:00 P.M. on 4/7. Theplace has yet to be determined. The title of his lecture has not been announced, but will speak to issues and problems in the ethnography of communication/speaking. Attendance is required. A brown bag lunch will be held on 4/8 for students interested in talking to Professor Philipsen about his presentation. Attendance at the brown bag is optional.

4/14 Arbitrating Taste, Wealth, and Power Through the "Window on the World"

Read: Lutz and Collins, Reading National Geographic*


421 Rhetoric and Feminism

Read: Dow, Prime-Time Feminism*


4/28 Wrap-Up

Note: Final Paper Due In-Class.


5/5 Final Examination Period -- To be used only if necessary for making up a class that gets cancelled for one reason or another.