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Stuart Hall and the Rise of Cultural Studies | The New Yorker
"Culture, he argued, does not consist of what the educated élites happen to fancy, such as classical music or the fine arts. It is, simply, “experience lived, experience interpreted, experience defined.” And it can tell us things about the world, he believed, that more traditional studies of politics or economics alone could not."



"Broadly speaking, cultural studies is not one arm of the humanities so much as an attempt to use all of those arms at once. It emerged in England, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, when scholars from working-class backgrounds, such as Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, began thinking about the distance between canonical cultural touchstones—the music or books that were supposed to teach you how to be civil and well-mannered—and their own upbringings. These scholars believed that the rise of mass communications and popular forms were permanently changing our relationship to power and authority, and to one another. There was no longer consensus. Hall was interested in the experience of being alive during such disruptive times. What is culture, he proposed, but an attempt to grasp at these changes, to wrap one’s head around what is newly possible?

Hall retained faith that culture was a site of “negotiation,” as he put it, a space of give and take where intended meanings could be short-circuited. “Popular culture is one of the sites where this struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged: it is also the stake to be won or lost in that struggle,” he argues. “It is the arena of consent and resistance.” In a free society, culture does not answer to central, governmental dictates, but it nonetheless embodies an unconscious sense of the values we share, of what it means to be right or wrong. Over his career, Hall became fascinated with theories of “reception”—how we decode the different messages that culture is telling us, how culture helps us choose our own identities. He wasn’t merely interested in interpreting new forms, such as film or television, using the tools that scholars had previously brought to bear on literature. He was interested in understanding the various political, economic, or social forces that converged in these media. It wasn’t merely the content or the language of the nightly news, or middlebrow magazines, that told us what to think; it was also how they were structured, packaged, and distributed.

According to Slack and Lawrence Grossberg, the editors of “Cultural Studies 1983,” Hall was reluctant to publish these lectures because he feared they would be read as an all-purpose critical toolkit rather than a series of carefully situated historical conversations. Hall himself was ambivalent about what he perceived to be the American fetish for theory, a belief that intellectual work was merely, in Slack and Grossberg’s words, a “search for the right theory which, once found, would unlock the secrets of any social reality.” It wasn’t this simple. (I have found myself wondering what Hall would make of how cultural criticism of a sort that can read like ideological pattern-recognition has proliferated in the age of social media.)

Over the course of his lectures, Hall carefully wrestles with forebears, including the British scholar F. R. Leavis and also Williams and Hoggart (the latter founded Birmingham University’s influential Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies, which Hall directed in the seventies). Gradually, the lectures cluster around questions of how we give our lives meaning, how we recognize and understand “the culture we never see, the culture we don’t think of as cultivated.” These lectures aren’t instructions for “doing” cultural studies—until the very end, they barely touch on emerging cultural forms that intrigued Hall, such as reggae and punk rock. Instead, they try to show how far back these questions reach."



"Hall found ready disciples in American universities, though it might be argued that the spirit which animated cultural studies in England had existed in the U.S. since the fifties and sixties, in underground magazines and the alternative press. The American fantasy of its supposedly “classless” society has always given “culture” a slightly different meaning than it has in England, where social trajectories were more rigidly defined. What scholars like Hall were actually reckoning with was the “American phase” of British life. After the Second World War, England was no longer the “paradigm case” of Western industrial society. America, that grand experiment, where mass media and consumer culture proliferated freely, became the harbinger for what was to come. In a land where rags-to-riches mobility is—or so we tend to imagine—just one hit away, culture is about what you want to project into the world, whether you are fronting as a member of the élite or as an everyman, offering your interpretation of Shakespeare or of “The Matrix.” When culture is about self-fashioning, there’s even space to be a down-to-earth billionaire."
2017  stuarthall  culture  culturalstudies  huahsu  arts  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  popularculture  richardhoggart  raymondwilliams  humanities  resistance  consent  jenniferdarylslack  lawrencegrossberg  frleavis  society  canon  marxism 
december 2017 by robertogreco
In Search of Lost Time | The Evergreen State College
"How does memory shape our identities and our sense of the world? How do our personal experiences, our ties with others, and larger social forces affect what we remember, and why? This inquiry will take the work of Marcel Proust as focus and inspiration for exploring these questions. Students will also create their own original research and writing on memory-in-action—crafting a memoir, an oral history, or an investigation of an historical or cultural memory-topic that grows out of our studies.

We will do a sustained, in-depth reading of the first two volumes of Proust's 4000-page masterpiece of early 20th century literature, In Search of Lost Time (also known as The Remembrance of Things Past ). Heralded as one of the first examples of the modern novel, Proust's work crystallized and refracted key psychological, cultural and sociological concerns of the emerging "modern age." To place our understanding of this literature in context, we will study fin-de-siècle European and intellectual history and thinkers like Bergson, Halbwachs, Freud, Benjamin, and even Einstein’s theories of space and time. We will also examine innovative recent scholarship about ways in which memory can be "collective" in specific communities and whole societies today. We will play with the intertwining of time, memory, identity, and meaning in a wide range of French, American and other contexts, including some films that make powerful use of these themes.

This is a literature-history-and-folklore focused, reading and writing-intensive program. Students will read 300+ pages of complex texts each week, participate in two weekly seminars on Proust plus a third seminar on dynamics of memory in everyday life, and write about these texts. Over the course of the quarter you will develop, revise and share your memory project with ongoing guidance from faculty and dialogue with peers. Your work will culminate in a polished essay and a presentation in our symposium.
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  americanstudies  anthropology  ethnography  writing  literature  culturalstudies  culture  history  folklore  media  education  staceydavis  samuelschrager  proust  marcelproust  memory 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth | The Evergreen State College
"Fifty years ago, Buckminster Fuller contemplated our planetary future and our limited ability to imagine alternative futures in his book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth . In this program, we will consider what it means to be astronauts on our home planet and how to creatively imagine healthy and sustainable future scenarios. Guiding questions for the program will include: What shapes cultural values and how do cultures change, adapt and form new paths? How do we weave together various branches of knowledge into a healthy system and vision for the world? What do we make with the abundance of material goods that fill our daily lives? How do we design objects and spaces to create a more sustainable and fulfilling existence?

To address these questions, we will consider traditions of the past and present that demonstrate cultural responses to environmental limits and possibilities. Yogic philosophy, for example, offers critical guidelines for sustainable living and we will explore the principles and practices of this tradition. We will examine the ideologies of the Arts and Crafts movement, the modernist avant-garde, social sculpture and art as social practice. These will be connected with the environmental movement and current trends such as upcycling, cradle-to-cradle design and the resurgence in handiwork and traditions of craft.

Students will research and construct their own “Operating Manuals” over the course of the three quarters. This will include a critical look at alternative and utopian models for living, as well as engage with powerful sustainability and justice movements already at work in our community. This program will challenge students to engage through readings and weekly seminar discussions, field visits and research papers, as well as visual art projects and critiques.

In fall quarter, we will build vocabularies and skills for thinking about sustainability and community transformation. Studio work in two- and three-dimensional design and ceramics will emphasize redesigning, repurposing and reusing the proliferation of materials available all around us. Yoga labs will help us to integrate work in the classroom and studio with yogic thought and somatic experiences. Study and comparison of cross-cultural examples of sustainability practices will guide the development of our Operating Manuals.

In winter quarter, we will work to develop community projects and/or individual visual artworks. We will work with organizations such as Sustainable South Sound and The Commons to develop applied projects. Students will research and report on local and regional alternative, intentional communities. Our critical analysis of sustainability discourses will inform all of our studio work.

Spring quarter will offer opportunities to further develop and implement community projects. These may take the form of public art projects, sculptures or installations that enhance public spaces such as community or school gardens or parks. They may also involve facilitating public art processes that integrate the concepts and design principles central to this program."
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  buckminsterfuller  anthropology  karengaul  evanblackwell  anthonytindill  architecture  design  art  arthistory  history  community  consciousness  consciousnessstudies  sustainability  sustainabilitystudies  somaticstudies  culturalstudies  culture  visualarts  spaceshipearth 
september 2014 by robertogreco
A tribute to Stuart Hall | openDemocracy
"This was very important to a teenage ‘unreconstructed post-punk’ (as I would have it) in the waning days of Thatcher’s premiership: ‘not talking shit’ was basically my criterion for what it meant to be a successful human being. Hall’s incisive analyses of the relationship between culture, power, technological and social change made more sense to me than anything else I had ever read, or heard, or thought. His Gramscian understanding of Thatcherism finally helped me to understand the apparently glaring contradictions inherent in the Tories’ commitment to radical individualism and social conservatism. His contributions to Marxism Today’s ‘New Times’ project seemed to me to define what a progressive politics should look like in the (post)modern age: working with the grain of cultural and technological change towards democratic and egalitarian ends. It still does."



"But I only fully began to appreciate the sheer enormity of Stuart’s contribution as I began to work out for myself what it might mean to be a politically engaged teacher of ‘cultural studies’. For while the exotic theory in which I was so fluent - from Althusser to Zizek - was all very well for impressing fellow grad students, my own students - working-class and intellectually curious - wanted to know what I could tell them about the world as it was, and as it was changing. And here it was Stuart’s method, bringing together sociology, ideology critique, semiotics, political sociology and necessary speculation that would prove very often the only way to address the key question which mattered to them and to me: the question of which power relationships were shaping our lives, and of how to understand, and potentially how to transform them. Stuart always insisted that the key issue for cultural studies is the issue of power, and that the key question for cultural studies, when asking about any phenomenon whatsoever, is ‘what does this have to do with everything else.’ They are elegant, efficient, economical dictums which serve any aspiring political or cultural analyst well."



"The debt which so many of us owe to Stuart is not only a political or a collective one however. For someone like myself, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that without the support, intervention and inspiration of Stuart and his many cohorts of students, there simply would not have been careers, institutional homes, or public opportunities for people like us at all. What would have become of this disgruntled teenager, angry, dismayed, disillusioned with the shit-talking that saturated public-culture, unsuited to the the life of a traditional academic institution, if Stuart and others had not created an institutional space which could nurture us, give us a home, enable us to grow and find a place in the world? I dread to think, but I sometimes think that I would not have reached middle age.

Stuart’s example remains today quite a difficult one to follow.  Hardly ever a solo author, by nature a great collaborator, the competitive individualism into which aspiring young academics are forced today was anathema to him. But as he was always the first to acknowledge, he was in part the beneficiary, as well as one of the architects, of the British university’s golden social-democratic age. He lamented that ‘cultural studies’ as it was taught and practiced in most academic institutions today was too often reduced to cultural theory, with very little in the way of conjunctural analysis going on anywhere; yet he acknowledged that the individualisation and instrumentalisation of the academy increasingly pushed scholars towards personal projects with grandiose, abstract ambitions (my own would be no exception). But it is worth reflecting that one of the places where he did see that form of intellectual work which he so valued continuing was in fact here, on the digital commons of openDemocracy."
stuarthall  collaboration  academia  individualism  2014  obituaries  subcultures  marxism  power  society  socialchange  jeremygilbert  powerrelationships  class  culture  culturalstudies  semiotics  sociology  politics  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  thatcherism  capitalism  anticapitalism 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Stuart Hall obituary | Education | The Guardian
"When the writer and academic Richard Hoggart founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964, he invited Stuart Hall, who has died aged 82, to join him as its first research fellow. Four years later Hall became acting director and, in 1972, director. Cultural studies was then a minority pursuit: half a century on it is everywhere, generating a wealth of significant work even if, in its institutionalised form, it can include intellectual positions that Hall could never endorse.

The foundations of cultural studies lay in an insistence on taking popular, low-status cultural forms seriously and tracing the interweaving threads of culture, power and politics. Its interdisciplinary perspectives drew on literary theory, linguistics and cultural anthropology in order to analyse subjects as diverse as youth sub-cultures, popular media and gendered and ethnic identities – thus creating something of a model, for example, for the Guardian's own G2 section.

Hall was always among the first to identify key questions of the age, and routinely sceptical about easy answers. A spellbinding orator and a teacher of enormous influence, he never indulged in academic point-scoring. Hall's political imagination combined vitality and subtlety; in the field of ideas he was tough, ready to combat positions he believed to be politically dangerous. Yet he was unfailingly courteous, generous towards students, activists, artists and visitors from across the globe, many of whom came to love him. Hall won accolades from universities worldwide, despite never thinking of himself as a scholar. Universities offered him a base from which he could teach – a source of great pleasure for him – and collaborate with others in public debate."



"Ambivalent about his relation both to his place of departure and to his place of arrival, he sought to survive the medieval gloom of Oxford by making common cause with the city's displaced migrant minority."


"In Birmingham, under Hall's charismatic leadership – and on a shoestring budget – cultural studies took off. But as Hoggart remarked, Hall rarely used the first person singular, preferring to speak of the collaborative aspects of the work. His energy was prodigious and he shifted the terms of debate on the media, deviancy, race, politics, Marxism and critical theory.

While there are no single-authored, scholarly monographs to his name, Hall produced an astonishing array of collectively written and edited volumes, essays and journalism – translated into many languages – as well as countless political speeches, and radio and television talks.

In 1979 he became professor of sociology at the Open University, attracted by the possibility of reaching out to those who had fallen through the conventional educational system. He remained there until 1998 – later becoming emeritus professor – launching a series of courses in communications and sociology. Increasingly, he focused on questions of race and postcolonialism, and on theorising the migrant view of Britain that he had always cherished."



"Under New Labour he became increasingly furious that managerialism was hollowing out public life, and increasingly pessimistic about the global situation. Yet he was cheered that "someone with Hussein for a middle name" was sitting in the White House and, after the credit crunch, was mesmerised by the sight of capitalism falling apart of its own accord. Throughout, he maintained an optimism of the will, and as late as last year he and his colleagues on Soundings magazine were producing manifestos for a post-neoliberal politics."



"When he appeared on Desert Island Discs, Hall talked about his lifelong passion for Miles Davis. He said that the music represented for him "the sound of what cannot be". What was his own intellectual life but the striving, against all odds, to make "what cannot be" alive in the imagination?"
obituaries  2014  stuarthall  culturalstudies  culture  lcproject  openstudioproject  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  nuance  subcultures  media  ethnicity  identity  institutionalization  colonialism  imperialism  decolonization  culturalanthropology  anthropology  literarytheory  multiliteracies  power  politics  gender  openuniversity  humility  collaboration  marxism  neoliberalism  activism  managerialism  liminalspaces  liminality 
february 2014 by robertogreco
walking as knowing as making
[Intro here: http://www.walkinginplace.org/converge/intro.htm ]

"...sense of place can be seen as a commonplace occurrence, as an ordinary way of engaging one's surroundings and finding them significant. Albert Camus may have said it best. "Sense of place," he wrote, "is not just something that people know and feel, it is something people do". And that realization brings the whole idea rather firmly down to earth, which is plainly, I think, where a sense of place belongs."

Keith Basso (Wisdom Sits in Places)

"Walkscapes deals with strolling as an architecture of landscape. Walking as an autonomous form of art, a primary act in the symbolic transformation of the territory, an aesthetic instrument of knowledge and a physical transformation of the "negotiated" space, which is converted into an urban intervention. From primitive nomadism to Dada and Surrealism, from the Lettrist to the Situationist International, and from Minimalism to Land Art, this book narrates the perception of landscape through a history of the traversed city.

Francesco Careri (Rome, 1966) graduated in architecture in 1993 in Rome. His doctoral research began in Naples in 1996, resulting in a thesis entitled "The Journey". He is a member of the Stalker urban art workshop, an open interdisciplinary structure that conducts research on the city through experiences of transurbance in open spaces and in interaction with the inhabitants. He has taught at the Institut d'Arts Visuels d'Orléans and the Schools of Architecture of Reggio Calabria and Roma Tre, experimenting together with the students on methods of reappropriation and direct intervention in public space. He has recently published a book on Constant and the Situationist city Constant imagined in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Constant / New Babylon, una città nomade, Testo & Immagine, Turin 2001), and participated with Stalker in many international exhibitions of contemporary art and architecture."

http://www.osservatorionomade.net/
http://www.stalkerlab.it/
http://digilander.libero.it/stalkerlab/tarkowsky/manifesto/manifesting.htm


From the intro:

"Despite its ubiquity in the everyday walking is an activity obscured by its own practical functionality. It is employed literally and understood metaphorically as a slow, inefficient, and increasingly anachronistic means to a predetermined end. Rarely is walking considered as a distinct mode of acting, knowing, and making. As its necessity diminishes and its applications rarefy, the potential of walking as critical, creative, and subversive tool appears only to grow. Conceived of as a conversation between the body and the world, walking becomes a reciprocal and simultaneous act of both interpretation and manipulation; an embodied and active way of shaping and being shaped that operates on a scale and at a pace embedded in something seemingly more authentic and real.

Based in Urbana-Champaign at the University of Illinois, Walking as Knowing as Making is a multifaceted effort that seeks to nurture both a theoretical and applied approach to knowing and interpreting place as we experience and construct it through walking. Using the walk as a guiding metaphor the format of this symposium has been designed to encourage a sustained, rigorous, and layered yet experimental, diffuse, and meandering consideration of walking and its associated activities, systems, and values. Between February and May 2005 we will bring to campus a diverse group of scholars, activists, and pedestrians to present ideas, engage in conversation, generate questions, tell stories, and, of course, walk. Supplementing and also weaving together this series of convergences will be a new interdisciplinary course about walking, an informal film series about place, a reading group, a series of informational and experimental walks and tours, production of a monthly sound collage for broadcast on local community radio stations, a museum exhibition, and a digital and print archive of all the events and activities."
architecture  culturalstudies  culture  space  walking  psychogeography  keithbasso  francescocareri  reggiocalabria  situationist  urban  urbanism  cities  art  transurbance  place  territory  landscape  via:anne  davidabram  dannisbanks  timcresswell  johnfrancis  hamishfulton  chellisglendinning  davidmacauley  trevorpaglen  mikepearson  danicaphelps  andrephelps  janerendell  davidrothenberg  garysnyder  christaylor  jackturner  annewallace  msimonlevin  laurielong  knowing  making  slow  small  subversion  scale 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Public Culture
"An interdisciplinary journal of transnational cultural studies"

"In the more than twenty years of its existence, Public Culture has established itself as a prize-winning, field-defining cultural studies journal. Public Culture seeks a critical understanding of the global cultural flows and the cultural forms of the public sphere which define the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. As such, the journal provides a forum for the discussion of the places and occasions where cultural, social, and political differences emerge as public phenomena, manifested in everything from highly particular and localized events in popular or folk culture to global advertising, consumption, and information networks.

Artists, activists, and both well-established and younger scholars, from across the humanities and social sciences and around the world, present some of their most innovative and exciting work in the pages of Public Culture."
digitalhumanities  humanities  transnational  research  education  culturalstudies  media  journals  anthropology  culture 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The American Crawl : Not Quite EverythingEverything: Why Our Approach to Music Education is Kinda Awful
"And all of this is to prelude a simple question: Why did I have to wait so long for this opportunity? While I was already a music “fan” and immersed in family practices that included going to musical performances, singing at family gatherings, and enthusiastically drumming on car dashboards, it really wasn’t until college that I was able to see music as a source of study, as a place to connect passion with purpose, a place to learn new ways of listening…

we leave music instruction into the hands of people who are inclined on the production side of things (and even then in only limited ways such as marching bands and big band numbers). Why do we wait to make the study of music, its history, and the cultural meaning of it an option only for those students that eventually matriculate into universities?"
anterogarcia  2011  ofwgkta  music  education  teaching  appreciation  listening  popularculture  oddfuture  culture  culturalstudies  semiotics  engagement  classideas  instruction  academics 
december 2011 by robertogreco

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