Critical Theory and Cultural Studies
Preparation Guide 2012
There are three progenitors of the cultural studies movement. The first path
traces through Europe, beginning in orthodox Marxism. (Later critical theorists
point out that orthodox Marxism is like neo-Aristotelianism: it is not Marx,
it is interpreters of Marx.) Orthodox Marxism, a mechanistic theory of
society, distrusted rhetoric, believing it was the source of ideology that masked
the reality of historical materialism, thus keeping the working class in chains.
In Western Europe during and after World War II, that notion was critiqued.
Instead, the problems in the Soviet Union taught that even Communism, steeped
as it was in Marxist-Stalinist ideology, was based in ideology. Thus, Neo-Marxism
came into vogue. Reinterpreting historical materialism into a contextualist
theory of society, the developments we today know as "continental philosophy"
took hold of social inquiry. Critical theory was hatched in the Frankfurt
school including Horkeimer, Adorno, and their student Habermas. In France,
a series of sociologists and philosophers developed social theory. In Birmingham,
England, this developed into Stuart Hall's version of cultural studies. Critical
Studies had come to the United States with the exiles from Germany. But in the
oppressive environment of the Cold War, anything hinting at Marxism was dangerous.
Instead, the ideas were worked subtley into media studies, particularly by James
But there evolved another strain in the United States within Communication
Studies. It began in the cultural strains in the work of Kenneth Burke. During
the 1930s Burke had proposed cultural analyses of the symbolic action within
social ritual. His work with such cultural symbols as "the monetary synthesis"
initially influenced scholars in in Sociology and Anthropology, in the work
of Hugh Dalziel Duncan and Clifford Geertz. Within the linguistic turn, these
ideas emphasized the use of rhetoric in ordinary everyday discourse and in rituals
of social order that created the character of culture. Late in the century,
those following this lead in communication picked up the thought of the continental
philosophers, critical theory, and British cultural studies and cultural studies
within communication developed.
We want to understand the theoretical moves that underlay this work.
Clusters: critical theory, cultural studies, rhetoric and ritual,
Preparation for discussion
Week 1: (December 3)
Read the material indicated below. Come prepared with either (1) concepts you did not understand tied to page numbers, or (2) what you take to be key concepts. We will organize discussions around this.
Week 2: (December 10)
We are going to explore the intersections and differences between critical and cultural theory. As you read, map this out (feel free to create a mind map, a literal map, a chart -- whatever is easiest for you to conceptualize these connections). To help you do this, consider the following questions:
- How do these theories build on one another? Pay attention to chronological order and references as you work out how each author extends or revises the theories we read last week. Be prepared to construct a chronology.
- How is power constructed in each of these theories? Is power always a negative thing? Or, like Foucault, is there a positive notion of power? What solutions do the authors offer to oppression (negative power)? In what ways is power discursive? In what ways is the solution to oppression discursive?
- How is culture variously defined by these authors? What part does rhetoric play in culture for them? Similarly, does language create culture, or culture create language?
- Do these articles claim that culture is created by society, or that society is created by culture?
- What is the relationship between culture and media? Does culture create media, or does media create culture?
- Who controls the production of media? The oppressors? The will of the consumers? Media moguls? Design a map of communication (like we did the first week of the seminar) for this construction.
We also want to find the edges of the critical/cultural theory move, looking for places of overlap and difference from earlier moves. As you read, consider how the critical/cultural move is different from and similar to the freedom/domination move and the identity move. Where are the edges? How much overlap is there?
* = Reading for December 3
# = Reading for December 10
- Carey, James W. Communication as Culture. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
- Conquergood, D. Rethinking ethnography: Towards a critical cultural politics. Communication Monographs 58, (1991): 179–194
- * Durham and Kellner, pp. 1-36; 53-74; 80-86; 115-23; 249-52; 388-432.
- Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic, 1973.
- # Grossberg, Lawrence,"The Conversation of Cultural Studies." Cultural Studies 23, no. 2 (2009): 177-182. (CMMC)
- # Hall, Stuart, "Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms." Media, Culture, and Society 2, (1980): 57-72.
- Hall, Stuart. Critical dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge, 1996.
- Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Herder and Herder, 1972.
- Williams, Raymond, "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory,"
in Durham and Kellner. pp. 115-23.
- Duncan, Hugh Dalziel, Symbols in Society (New York: Oxford, 1968)
- Duncan, Hugh Dalziel, Communication and Social Order (New York: Bedminster
- Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment
- Hall, Stuart, "Cultural Studies: two paradigms" Media, Culture,
and Society 2(1980): 57-72.
- Grossberg, Lawrence,"The Conversation of Cultural Studies."
Cultural Studies 23, 2 (2009): 177-182.
- Best, Steven and Douglas Kellner. The Postmodern Adventure. New York: Guilford, 2001.
- Boyd, Robert & Peter J. Richerson. The Origin and Evolution of Cultures. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Butler, Judith, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek. Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. London: Verso, 2000.
- .# Delgado, R., & J. Stefancic. Critical race theory: An introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2001. Read pp. 1-4.
- Duncan, Hugh Dalziel, Communication and Social Order. New York: Bedminster Press, 1962.
- Duncan, Hugh Dalziel, Symbols in Society. New York: Oxford, 1968.
- Fuchs, Christian. Foundations of Critical Media and Information Studies. New York: Routledge, 2011.
- Garnham, Nicholas. “Political Economy and Cultural Studies: Reconciliation or Divorce?” In Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, edited by John Storey, 600-612. Harlow: Pearson, 1998.
- Hall, Stuart. "Cultural studies and its theoretical legacies." In Critical dialogues in cultural studies, 262-275.
- Kellner, Douglas. Critical Theory, Marxism and Modernity. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.
- Kellner, Douglas. Cultural Studies, Identity and Politics between the Modern and the Postmodern. New York: Routledge, 1995.
- Kellner, Douglas. “Toward a Critical Media/Cultural Studies.” In Media/Cultural Studies: Critical Approaches, edited by Rhonda Hammer and Douglas Kellner, 5-24. New York: Peter Lang, 2009.
- Kincheloe, Joe L., and Peter McLaren. "Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research." Key Works in Critical Pedagogy (2011): 285-326.
- # McGee, Michael Calvin. “Text, Context, and the Fragmentation of Contemporary Culture.” Western Journal of Communication 54, (1990): 274–289. (CMMC)
- McGuigan, Jim. "The cultural public sphere–a critical measure of public culture?." Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere (2011): 79.
- Mignolo, Walter D. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.
- Morley, Dave. Stuart Hall: Critical dialogues in cultural studies. Routledge, 1996.
- Peck, Janice. “Why We Shouldn’t Be Bored with the Political Economy Versus Cultural Studies Debate.” Cultural Critique 64, (2006): 92-126.
- Turner, Graeme. British Cultural Studies. London: Routledge, 2003.
- White, Hayden. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
Recent Work: (Selected by Annie Laurie Nichols and Thomas McCloskey)
- Abromeit, John. "Left Heideggerianism or Phenomenological Marxism? Reconsidering Herbert Marcuse's Critical Theory of Technology." Constellations 17, no. 1 (2010): 87-106.
- # French, Brigittine M. "The Semiotics of Collective Memory." Annual Review of Anthropology 41, (2012): 337–53.
- Fuchs, Christian. "Towards Marxian Internet Studies." TripleC (Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation): Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society 10, no. 2 (2012): 392-412.
- Fuchs, Christian, and Vincent Mosco. "Introduction: Marx is Back -- The Importance of Marxist Theory and Research for Critical Communication Studies Today." TripleC (Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation): Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society 10, no. 2 (2012): 127-140.
- Guillem, Susana Martinez. “European Identity: Across Which Lines? Defining Europe Through Public Discourses on the Roma.” Journal of International & Intercultural Communication 4, no. 1 (Feb 2011): 23-41.
- Heath-Kelly, Charlotte. "Critical Terrorism Studies, Critical Theory and the ‘Naturalistic Fallacy’." Security Dialogue 41, no. 3 (2010): 235-254.
- Herbig, Art, and AaronHess. “Convergent Critical Rhetoric at the “Rally to Restore Sanity”: Exploring the Intersection of Rhetoric, Ethnography, and Documentary Production.” Communication Studies 63, no. 3 (2012): 269-289.
- Hess, Aaron. “Critical-Rhetorical Ethnography: Rethinking the Place and Process of Rhetoric.” Communication Studies 62, no. 2 (Apr-Jun 2011): 127-152.
- Kohlenbach, Margarete. “Kafka, Critical Theory, Dialectical Theology: Adorno's Case Against Hans-Joachim Schoeps.” German Life and Letters 63, no. 2 (April 2010): 146-65.
- Livingston, Alexander. “Avoiding Deliberative Democracy? Micropolitics, Manipulation, and the Public Sphere.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 45, no. 3 (2012): 269-294.
- Lumsden, Charles J. “Signs of the Times: Mind, Evolution, and the Twilight of Postmodernity. Semiotica 183, no. 1-4 (2011): 59-76.
- Nixon, Brice. “Dialectical Method and the Critical Political Economy of Culture.” TripleC (Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation): Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society 10, no. 2 (2012): 439-456.
- # Ono, Kent A. “Critical: A Finer Edge.” Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies 8, no. 1 (Mar 2011): 93-96. (CSMC; you read this earlier. Prepare to discuss.)
- Stock, Danielle. “Multiplication and Division: Embodied Action in Digital Space-Time.” Canadian Journal of Communication 37, no. 1 (2012): 129-134.
- Stroud, Scott R. “John Dewey and the Question of Artful Criticism.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 44, no 1. (2011): 27-51.
- Sutton, Jane S., Mifsud, Mari Lee. “Towards an Alloiostrophic Rhetoric.” Advances in the History of Rhetoric 15, no. 2 (2012): 222-233.
- Wanzer, Darrel Allan. “Delinking Rhetoric, or Revisiting McGee's Fragmentation Thesis through Decoloniality.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 15, no. 4 (Winter 2012): pp. 647-657.
- Zhang, Xihua . “Retrospect, Reflection and Prospects: Cultural Studies in China.” China Media Research 8, no. 3 (Jul 2012): 33-41.
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