04:30 PM to 07:10 PM T
Enterprise Hall 77
Section Information for Spring 2019
ENGH 676: Introduction to Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary mode of inquiry aimed at producing critical yet socially useful knowledge relevant to the current moment. It draws on some of the skills associated with literary study; like it, Cultural Studies is attentive to race, gender, sexuality, class, and other forms of identity. It is also attentive to power and ideology. But unlike literary study—or, for that matter, any other discipline—it does not have a “natural” focus, nor does it confine itself solely to texts. Rather, it aims to hit a moving target, offering a critical examination of different social dominants as they emerge and exert large-scale influence on everyday consciousness. For Cultural Studies, "culture is ordinary." Hence the prominence of mass culture (TV, movies, etc.) and media study in the field. But Cultural Studies can also offer critical insights into more “sociological” elements of today's culture, such as education, food shopping, or the effects of globalization, as is often the case with Ph.D. dissertations in the Cultural Studies program.
In this MA-level introductory course designed for members of an English Department, we will aim to do three things, although not necessarily in this order:
--First, to distinguish cultural studies from literary studies by taking a literary figure and doing something non-literary with him. The aim will be to look at Shakespeare through a different lens: not as a dramatist, but as a cultural force in the US. Why, after all, should Shakespeare be so inescapable a part of US culture? Why does almost every American read Shakespeare in high school? Why should the Folger Shakespeare Library be located in Capitol Hill and on an almost direct axis from the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial? (If you’re tempted to answer, “Because he is great,” be aware that that answer is at best a very incomplete one: the right one has as much to do with US history with respect to race and class as it has to do with ideas about literary quality--perhaps more.)
--Second, to learn some of the theoretical traditions and methodologists associated with Cultural Studies, among them Althusser and Foucault
--Third, to read some influential Cultural Studies case studies, on mass culture, digital culture, gender and sexuality, and the like.
Writing: several brief written assignments; one class presentation with handout; one longer paper
Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Non-Degree or Senior Plus.
Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.
Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.