Key Concepts in Critical Cultural Studies
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: The History of Communication
Table of Contents
Introduction: Working the Hyphen in Critical-Cultural Conversations
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...
PART I: Contexts
History: Looking for the Subject of Communication History.
The term history refers 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...
Education: Critical Pedagogy
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...
Space: The Possibilities and Limits of the Conversation Model
When I was asked to write on the keyword space in 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...
Religion: Faith in Cultural Studies
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...
Community: Community without Propinquity
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...
PART II: Culture
Culture: James W. Carey and the Conversation of Culture
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...
Popular Culture: Asking the Right Questions
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...
Oral Culture: Oral Culture as Antidote to Terror and Ennui
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,...
Ritual: The Dark Continent of Journalistic Ritual
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...
Identity: The Politics of Identity Work
Does identity matter? If so, whose?
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 ...
PART III: Consequences
Professionalism: Journalism Without Professional Journalists?
The English word journalist can 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...
Politics: Media Power, Status Politics, and Partisanship
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...
Ethics: Communication Ethics in Postnarrative Terms
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...
The Public: Philosophical Foundations and Distortiaons in the Quest for Civitas
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...
Technology: The Digital Sublimation of the Electrical Sublime
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...
Globalization: Counterglobalization and Other Rituals Against Empire
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...
Epiloge: How Scholarship Matters
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...
Editors and Contributors