restricted access 4. Cultural Studies
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four Cultural Studies I n the preceding chapter we closely examined Paredes’s academic work within the professional discipline of folklore. Indeed, one can make the further argument that this body of work appeared at a historical time in the late 1950s into the late seventies when this discipline was at the apogee of its development. Vibrant PhD programs in folklore came into full stride at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Indiana, UT-Austin, UCLA, Ohio State, and UC-Berkeley, with smaller though important programs at other academic sites, such as the universities of New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Western Kentucky. Indeed, Paredes cofounded the UT-Austin program. Such an extensive disciplinary programming at that historical moment clearly suggested a distinctive object of study called “folklore.” But this same period also saw the beginning of another academic enterprise known as “cultural studies,” beginning in England, but later and to the present becoming a large and pervasive interest in the United States, including a formidable presence within what came to be called Chicano/a studies. Yet the latter can also trace its origin back to the late fifties, or so I will argue. That cultural studies has largely replaced the erstwhile thriving discipline of folklore as it has literary studies is a bit of an irony and worthy of a larger intellectual history to which the present chapter might be taken as a small contribution. In what follows, I argue that Paredes’s work, and folklore in general, has had a particular and distinctive relationship to such a transnational cultural studies in both historical and geographical dimensions.That is, we may see his work in folklore in a historically proximate and comparatively critical relationship to the early English formation of cultural studies, even as we can also critically trace a more obvious and long-term but ultimately cultural studies « 101 » vexed relationship to Chicano and Chicana cultural studies (hereafter Chicano/a studies). The latter is itself a consequence of English cultural studies both directly and also as mediated through an American prism. My more central concern is the data field that informs cultural studies and the place of folklore in that field, as well as the methodologies for apprehending such cultural studies data. Matters of theory and politics are always salient in cultural studies, and they will not be overlooked here. John Storey (1996: 1) reminds us that, as a discipline, cultural studies may be “defined by three criteria: first, there is the object of study; secondly, there are the basic assumptions which underpin the method(s) of approach to the object of study; and thirdly, there is the history of the discipline itself.” Using Paredes’s folklore work as a touchstone, I propose to closely examine the first two as a contribution toward the third, beginning first and comparatively with the English origins of cultural studies in relation to folklore and Paredes. from birmingham . . . It may reasonably be said that both cultural studies projects—the English and the Chicano—have theirorigin point in the same exact year.“With a Pistol in His Hand” (WPH) appeared in 1958, but so did Culture and Society : 1780–1950 by Raymond Williams (1958). We begin with the latter. In his foundational book, Williams charts and contests the evolution of the concept of culture centered on a series of largely canonical English literary texts. He closely examines a key segment of the English canonical literary intellectual tradition—Matthew Arnold, the Bronte sisters, Mill, and so on—with a view to understanding their role in the developing class divisions and conflict in British life, given his developing commitment to Marxism (O’Connor 1989: 6–38). But as he does so, Williams (1958: 319–327) must almost necessarily question the prevailing definition of culture away from the idea of culture as synonymous with great literature and other canonical artistic production. Rather, he encourages a viewof culture as a more democratic and shared daily lived experience and as a whole way of life. We could think of this expanded and democratic vision as an anthropological view of culture, although to have moved in the direction of anthropologyat that particular moment would have immediately placed Williams in conjunction with the concurrent powerful forces of British social anthropology and its almost exclusive concerns with the English colonial empire and other societies on the colonized or postcolonized periphery. « 102 » Américo Paredes Seemingly not yet ready to venture into the colonial realm, which is also to say into the realm...