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Key Concepts in Critical Cultural Studies

Key Concepts in Critical Cultural Studies

LINDA STEINER
CLIFFORD CHRISTIANS
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 288
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt2ttbx5
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    Key Concepts in Critical Cultural Studies
    Book Description:

    This volume brings together sixteen essays on key and intersecting topics in critical cultural studies from major scholars in the field. Taking into account the vicissitudes of political, social, and cultural issues, the contributors engage deeply with the evolving understanding of critical concepts such as history, community, culture, identity, politics, ethics, globalization, and technology. The essays address the extent to which these concepts have been useful to scholars, policy makers, and citizens, as well as the ways they must be rethought and reconsidered if they are to continue to be viable.

    Each essay considers what is known and understood about these concepts. The essays give particular attention to how relevant ideas, themes, and terms were developed, elaborated, and deployed in the work of James W. Carey, the "founding father" of cultural studies in the United States. The contributors map how these important concepts, including Carey's own work with them, have evolved over time and how these concepts intersect. The result is a coherent volume that redefines the still-emerging field of critical cultural studies.

    Contributors are Stuart Allan, Jack Zeljko Bratich, Clifford Christians, Norman Denzin, Mark Fackler, Robert Fortner, Lawrence Grossberg, Joli Jensen, Steve Jones, John Nerone, Lana Rakow, Quentin J. Schultze, Linda Steiner, Angharad N. Valdivia, Catherine Warren, Frederick Wasser, and Barbie Zelizer.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09257-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vi-viii)
  3. Introduction: Working the Hyphens in Critical-Cultural Conversations (pp. ix-xvi)
    LINDA STEINER and CLIFFORD CHRISTIANS

    This volume addresses the ways and extent to which key concepts in critical and cultural studies remain useful to scholars, to policy makers, and to citizens—or the ways they need to be rethought and reconsidered if they are to continue to be viable. The essays, individually and taken as a whole, engage in debate about culture and communication and about cultural and critical studies. In responding to emerging political, social, and cultural problems, the field has changed over the years. Thus the meanings, significance, and interrelationships of its central concepts have changed, as the authors here show. Nonetheless, these...

  4. Part I Contexts
    • History LOOKING FOR THE SUBJECT OF COMMUNICATION HISTORY (pp. 3-16)
      JOHN NERONE

      The termhistoryrefers simultaneously to a dimension of the human past and the representation of that past. Both uses of the word contain ambiguities, and the dissonance between the two produces an additional layer of ambiguity. Moreover, the dimension of the human past that is called history is distinguished from other dimensions. Depending on who is parsing the historical from the rest of the past, nonhistory might be called “prehistory” or “everyday life” or the personal or the spiritual. The distinction between the historical and the nonhistorical is always contested. Perhaps the bottom-line distinction between the historical and the...

    • Education CRITICAL PEDAGOGY (pp. 17-25)
      NORMAN K. DENZIN

      Informed by James Carey’s theories of democracy and his ritual model of communication, I enter a conversation that interrogates the place of critical pedagogy in a free democratic society (Carey 1989, 1997j, 1997l; Rosen 1997). Critical pedagogy is a key component in Carey’s intellectual project. A master teacher, Carey taught us how to think critically, to think and act in ways that linked critical pedagogy with a politics of hope. With Carey I seek a democratic pedagogy crafted for life in America since September 11, 2001 (Denzin 2007).

      A genuine democracy requires hope, dissent, and criticism. Critical pedagogy is a...

    • Space THE POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITS OF THE CONVERSATION MODEL (pp. 26-39)
      ANGHARAD N. VALDIVIA

      When I was asked to write on the keywordspacein relation to Jim Carey’s work, I had two somewhat contradictory reactions. One was of flattery. The second was panic and insecurity. Do I know enough to write about Carey and space? I certainly have vivid memories of the courses I took with Professor Carey, who was no ordinary teacher or scholar. Coming straight out of undergraduate studies, I was mostly one of those lost souls barely making sense of what now seems perfectly obvious and, of course, totally brilliant. I envy those who took his courses with the full...

    • Religion FAITH IN CULTURAL STUDIES (pp. 40-53)
      QUENTIN J. SCHULTZE

      In a study of early American anthropologists, Gillian Feeley-Harnik (2001, 144) discovered that scholars sought to escape from “transcendental philosophy and theology” by adopting new, presumably less ethnocentric ways of understanding cultures. Nevertheless, these researchers still held a “teleological dynamic” based on their understanding of the Christian metanarrative (152).

      Those of us who study culture today might be in the same bind. We affirm the existence of competing ways of life. We seek to avoid academic as well as religious exclusivism in favor of noble goals such as justice, freedom, and openness to the other. Continuing the attitude of early...

    • Community COMMUNITY WITHOUT PROPINQUITY (pp. 54-70)
      LINDA STEINER

      Wildly inflated, if not oxymoronic, versions of community—the intelligence community, military community, self-help community, and international business community—began proliferating a few decades ago, and such references continue apace. Communities have emerged around various diseases. They produce jobs, such as community literacy work. Although these may lack the thrill of “ecstatic communities,” “singular” communities are identified for academicians (the scholarly community), lawyers, artists, scientists, and various other professions and occupations. We can study a host of interpretive communities and in doing so form an interpretive community. The term has even been stretched to refer to momentary aggregations of people...

  5. Part II Culture
    • Culture JAMES W. CAREY AND THE CONVERSATION OF CULTURE (pp. 73-87)
      LAWRENCE GROSSBERG

      Cultural studies is going through one of those rarely acknowledged or analyzed “crises” common in the life histories of intellectual formations. Recent attacks on cultural studies, on first glance, echo earlier criticisms: cultural studies stands accused of paying too much attention to culture and not enough to the state and economics, too much to cultural differences and not enough to social commonalities, too much to popular resistance and not enough to political domination. Yet the current discomforts are not the same as earlier ones. Earlier criticisms were often hostile to the very project of cultural studies, whereas the most trenchant...

    • Popular Culture ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS (pp. 88-102)
      JOLI JENSEN

      The questions we ask determine the answers we get. That simple truth is one of the many things I learned from Jim Carey during my years at the Institute of Communications Research (1977–84), when I took every course offered on popular culture. Those courses introduced me to C. Wright Mills, Dwight Macdonald, Lewis Mumford, Hannah Arendt, and Edward Shils. These writers, as well as other participants in the mass culture debates, puzzled over some version of the question that mattered most to me: how are the mass media shaping American life? For those social critics, and for Carey, questions...

    • Oral Culture ORAL CULTURE AS ANTIDOTE TO TERROR AND ENNUI (pp. 103-114)
      MARK FACKLER

      This essay began to take shape on the night of Hollywood’s annual Academy Awards. Half the nation is in Los Angeles, via television, on stage with beautiful, talented people. It’s their conversation we listen to, their ritual of affirmation we hear, their stumbling thanks and scripted affection for nuanced sound engineering and whiz-bang special effects. We listeners, even if the spectacle is only ambiance, are part of the filmmaking family, whether we share their politics or like their looks. Our conversations tomorrow will be about them. We will remake our favorites in our own image through a million oral encounters...

    • Ritual THE DARK CONTINENT OF JOURNALISTIC RITUAL (pp. 115-127)
      CATHERINE A. WARREN

      We have entered into a Conradian heart of darkness in Iraq. The dark continent of American journalism is darker than ever. The world seems on the verge of imploding. Indeed, it might, although as James W. Carey has pointed out, “the shadow of the Apocalypse is cast across all our sophisticated imaginings” (Carey 2002b, 196). At this moment in history, it seems particularly appropriate—and critical—to return to Carey’s formative insights about the role of ritual in media: “Media events are often exercises in social cruelty that teeter on the edge of legitimacy and bear dangers beyond purely ritual...

    • Identity THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY WORK (pp. 128-142)
      LANA F. RAKOW

      For those of us in the United States who are immersed personally and professionally in issues of race and gender, the answer is obvious. Our work in the academy, undertaken against the grain of tradition in our disciplines and departments, has exposed historically and culturally bound assumptions of self and other, untangling and revealing connections between group identity and the social formation. We argue for changes in content, pedagogy, and methodology to shake up settled assumptions about the human condition (see, e. g., Blum and Press 2002; McRobbie 1997; and Steiner 2002). Outside the academy progressive political movements, with our...

  6. Part III Consequences
    • Professionalism JOURNALISM WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS? (pp. 145-157)
      STUART ALLAN

      The English wordjournalistcan be traced back at least as far as the end of the seventeenth century, meaning broadly, “one whose work is to write or edit public journals or newspapers.” Matters quickly become complicated, however, when one seeks to determine the professional role that the everyday use of this term has prescribed over the years.

      More than a question of semantics, the nature of the proper identity to be affirmed by journalists continues to be contested. Indeed, nowhere else have the tacit assumptions informing a collective sense of identity been more openly challenged than in the emergence...

    • Politics MEDIA POWER, STATUS POLITICS, AND PARTISANSHIP (pp. 158-172)
      FREDERICK WASSER

      James Carey once explained that when he decided to read the literature of communication, “a wise man” suggested he begin with John Dewey (Carey 1989, 13). He never named the wise man.¹ In my case the wise man was James Carey himself. As refracted by Carey, Jürgen Habermas, and others, Dewey is often in my thoughts during the contemporary crisis in American democracy. This crisis can be defined any number of ways and at any number of levels, so I cannot presume to touch on all its fundamentals or even exhaustively list the ways to analyze it. Instead I will...

    • Ethics COMMUNICATION ETHICS IN POSTNARRATIVE TERMS (pp. 173-186)
      CLIFFORD CHRISTIANS

      Ethical formalism has been the dominant paradigm in communication ethics. Formalist ethical systems are based on rules, principles, and doctrines that set standards for human behavior. Through reason the human species is distinctive, and through rationality moral canons are understood to be legitimate. Ethics is typically grounded in prescriptions, norms, and ideals external to society and culture. In mainstream professional ethics, an apparatus of neutral standards is constructed in terms of the major issues media practitioners face in their everyday routines.

      Cultural studies understands morality in different terms, with its assumption that the moral domain is intrinsic to human life....

    • The Public PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND DISTORTIONS IN THE QUEST FOR CIVITAS (pp. 187-198)
      ROBERT FORTNER

      What is the public and what is its ordained or practical role in a free society? A variety of answers have been suggested for this question. On the ordination side, what did the framers of the U. S. Constitution have in mind when they guaranteed—in the appended Bill of Rights—freedom of press, assembly, petition, religion, and speech? On the practical side, what is meant by the public itself—and how one can know the mind of this public if its “opinion” is to be known on matters of “public policy” in a “republic”?

      We have all seen news...

    • Technology THE DIGITAL SUBLIMATION OF THE ELECTRICAL SUBLIME (pp. 199-211)
      STEVEN JONES

      Technology is a lot like the weather. It influences us in myriad untold ways; directly or indirectly, it affects everything from our behavior to our physical health and our mental outlook. Like the weather, technology is often in the news. And we try our best to forecast and predict it, but its unpredictability continues to foil us. We know the sources of weather; that is, we know in scientific terms what causes it. Similarly, we know who creates a particular technology, but we know little about the way it works or its likely operation, and we know it best only...

    • Globalization COUNTERGLOBALIZATION AND OTHER RITUALS AGAINST EMPIRE (pp. 212-226)
      JACK BRATICH

      James Carey made it clear that his primary identification, as scholar and citizen, was with the nation-state: “Modern utopians claim that we are now outgrowing the nation-state and that a new form of world order is emerging, a global village, a universal brotherhood, or world government on a shrinking planet– spaceship earth. Most of this is pleasant if not dangerous nonsense” (1989, 170). “I don’t want to be a citizen of the world,” Carey said (2006a, 222). He called his Americanist streak a “useful ethnocentrism,” given that the United States retained a special place in determining political changes. Carey (2006a)...

    • Epilogue HOW SCHOLARSHIP MATTERS (pp. 227-238)
      BARBIE ZELIZER

      Most scholars would say that they engage in intellectual work for the sheer joy of it, yet underlying a fierce curiosity about the efforts of the mind rests a humble hope that our scholarship will not perish when we are no longer around to remind others of its relevance. This volume asks us to consider concepts in cultural studies. In particular, it assesses the basic impulses of the work of James Carey in the context of those who claim its influence on their own scholarship. It is a smart, timely, and useful effort to delineate the setting in which Carey’s...

  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. 239-240)
  8. WORKS CITED (pp. 241-260)
  9. EDITORS AND CONTRIBUTORS (pp. 261-265)
  10. INDEX (pp. 266-271)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 272-272)