in the new South Africa
How we conceptualise future directions of culturalstudies depends on
how we have conceptualised the origins and genealogy of that discipline.
In the UK, two stories of origins have emerged, the textual and the sociological. The future theorisation and analysis of South African culturalstudies may follow either story. The textual version is probably dominant within British academia. It locates three texts, Richard Hoggart’s
The Uses of Literacy, E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the
Why theory? takes six major literary theorists and explores their work
using examples from contemporary film and television. Each chapter is devoted to
a single theorist and addresses three of their ideas in particular – a
methodical approach that, coupled with the concrete and accessible
illustrations, helps to strip away the obscurity that has built up around the
discipline. The theorists discussed, representing the cultural critique of
the period 1970–2000, are Clifford Geertz, Hayden White, Julia Kristeva, Homi K.
Bhabha, Pierre Bourdieu and Martha Nussbaum. The diverse illustrations are taken
from the mainstream film and television of the past two decades, and include
The West Wing (1999), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Frozen
(2013) and Twelve Years a Slave (2013). Providing a broad range of
specific examples drawn from everyday life, they allow for sophisticated ideas
to be quickly grasped, while demonstrating the enduring power of cultural theory
to explain the world around us. Ideal for students of literature and
cultural studies, Why theory? will also be of interest to academics and
general readers looking for a new way to approach the discipline, as well as a
convincing reassertion of its value.
The concept of 'margins' denotes geographical, economic, demographic, cultural and political positioning in relation to a perceived centre. This book aims to question the term 'marginal' itself, to hear the voices talking 'across' borders and not only to or through an English centre. The first part of the book examines debates on the political and poetic choice of language, drawing attention to significant differences between the Irish and Scottish strategies. It includes a discussion of the complicated dynamic of woman and nation by Aileen Christianson, which explores the work of twentieth-century Scottish and Irish women writers. The book also explores masculinities in both English and Scottish writing from Berthold Schoene, which deploys sexual difference as a means of testing postcolonial theorizing. A different perspective on the notion of marginality is offered by addressing 'Englishness' in relation to 'migrant' writing in prose concerned with India and England after Independence. The second part of the book focuses on a wide range of new poetry to question simplified margin/centre relations. It discusses a historicising perspective on the work of cultural studies and its responses to the relationship between ethnicity and second-generation Irish musicians from Sean Campbell. The comparison of contemporary Irish and Scottish fiction which identifies similarities and differences in recent developments is also considered. In each instance the writers take on the task of examining and assessing points of connection and diversity across a particular body of work, while moving away from contrasts which focus on an English 'norm'.
This tenth anniversary issue of Gothic Studies reconsiders how the study of the Gothic mode in many venues (from fiction and drama to cinema and video) has been deeply affected by a wide range of psychoanalytical, historicist, cultural, and literary theories that have been, and can still be, employed to interpret and explain the Gothic phenomenon. This collection builds on the most fruitful of existing theoretical perspectives on the Gothic, sometimes to transform them, or by suggesting new alliances between theory and the study of Gothic that will enrich both domains and advance the mission of Gothic Studies, as well as Gothic scholarship in general, to provide the best arena for understanding the Gothic in all its forms.
Each summer, a “perpetual fair” plagued eighteenth-century London, a city in transition overrun by a burgeoning population. City officials attempted to control disorderly urban amusement according to their own gendered understandings of order and morality. Frequently derided as locations of dangerous femininity disrupting masculine commerce, fairs withstood regulation attempts. Fairs were important in the lives of ordinary Londoners as sites of women’s work, sociability, and local and national identity formation. Rarely studied as vital to London’s modernization, urban fairs are a microcosm of London’s transforming society demonstrating how metropolitan changes were popularly contested. This study contributes to our understanding of popular culture and modernization in Britain during the formative years of its global empire. Drawing on legal records, popular literature, visual representations, and newspapers, this study places official discourse regarding urban amusement into the context of broader cultural understandings of gender and social hierarchies, commerce, public morality, and the urban environment. Entertainments, such as theatre, waxwork displays, and “monsters” are examined as cultural representations that disseminated ideas about “Britishness” and empire to a diverse audience. Such entertainment is often overlooked in works focused on elite culture or exhibits in the later era of World’s Fairs. This book demonstrates a thriving world of exhibition in the eighteenth century, which is a vital component to understanding later expositions. Examples drawn from literary and visual culture make this an engaging study for scholars and students of late Stuart and early Georgian Britain, urban and gender history, World’s Fairs, and cultural studies.
James Baldwin might be imagined as reaching his greatest level of popularity within this current decade. With the growth of social media activist movements like Black Lives Matter, which captures and catalyzes off a Baldwinian rage, and the publishing of works directly evoking Baldwin, his voice appears more pronounced between the years of 2013 and 2015. Scholars in Baldwin studies, along with strangers who were turned into witnesses of his literary oeuvre, have contributed to this renewed interest in Baldwin, or at least have been able to sharpen the significance of the phenomenon. Publications and performances highlight Baldwin’s work and how it prefigured developments in critical race and queer theories, while also demonstrating Baldwin’s critique as both prophetic and “disturbingly” contemporary. Emerging largely from Baldwin’s timelessness in social and political discourse, and from the need to conjure a figure to demystify the absurd American landscape, these interventions in Baldwin studies follow distinct trends. This essay examines the 2013–15 trends from four vantages: an examination of a return, with revision, to popular work by Baldwin; identifying Baldwin’s work as a contributor to theoretical and critical methodology; Baldwin and intertextuality or intervocality; and a new frontier in Baldwin studies.
Madchester may have been born at the Haçienda in the summer of 1988, but the city had been in creative ferment for almost a decade prior to the rise of Acid House. The End-of-the-Century Party is the definitive account of a generational shift in popular music and youth culture, what it meant and what it led to. First published right after the Second Summer of Love, it tells the story of the transition from New Pop to the Political Pop of the mid-1980s and its deviant offspring, Post-Political Pop. Resisting contemporary proclamations about the end of youth culture and the rise of a new, right-leaning conformism, the book draws on interviews with DJs, record company bosses, musicians, producers and fans to outline a clear transition in pop thinking, a move from an obsession with style, packaging and synthetic sounds to content, socially conscious lyrics and a new authenticity. This edition is framed by a prologue by Tara Brabazon, which asks how we can reclaim the spirit, energy and authenticity of Madchester for a post-youth, post-pop generation. It is illustrated with iconic photographs by Kevin Cummins.
The post-communist transition in Romania has been a period rife with high hopes and expectations as well as strong disappointments and disillusions. The engagement with these disappointments or disillusions has mainly fallen along the lines of critical editorial comments by dissidents and intellectuals or academic engagements that connect it to different forms of social and political apathy. What seems to be lacking however, is a more head-on engagement with disillusionment as a self-contained process that is not just a side-effect of political corruption or economic failures but rather an intrinsic part of any transition. This book provides the basis for a theory of disillusionment in instances of transition. It also elaborates on how such a theory could be applied to a specific case-study, in this instance, the Romanian transition from communism to capitalism. By defining disillusionment as the loss of particularly strong collective illusions, the book identifies what those illusions were in the context of the Romanian 1989 Revolution. It also seeks to understand the extent to which disillusionment is intrinsic to social change, and more importantly, determine whether it plays an essential role in shaping both the direction and the form of change. The book further inevitably places itself at the intersection of a number of different academic literatures: from regional and comparative studies, political science and "transitology" studies, to sociology, psychology and cultural studies.
Academic analyses in cultural studies of the second half of the twentieth century had made a case to extend the term 'culture' to the tastes, practices and creativity of the groups marginalised by ethnicity and class. This book deals with Shakespeare's role in contemporary culture in twenty-first-century England. It looks in detail at the way that Shakespeare's plays inform modern ideas of cultural value and the work required to make Shakespeare part of modern culture. The book shows how advocacy for Shakespeare's universal and transcendent values deal with multiple forms of 'Shakespeare' in the present and the past. His plays have the potential to provide a tangible proxy for value that may stabilise the contingency and uncertainty that attends the discussion of both value and culture in the twenty-first century. The book shows how the discussions of culture involve both narratives of cultural change and ways of managing the knowledge in order to arrive at definitions of culture as valuable. It examines the new languages of value proffered by the previous Labour government in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The book further shows how both the languages and the practice of contemporary cultural policy have been drastically affected by economic pressures and the political changes occasioned by the post-2008 fiscal crisis.
This article defends the view that Gothic Studies should encourage research on contemporary gothic youth cultures from a Cultural Studies point of view. This is justified on two grounds: research on these youth cultures is a unique chance to consider gothic as a living cultural practice and not just as textual analysis mostly disengaged from the present; on the other hand, these subcultures are currently under attack by the media and moral minorities, especially in the USA, and Gothic Studies could - maybe should - help correct this regrettable situation born of prejudice against, and ignorance about, Gothic itself. The article reviews the embarrassing position of the Gothic Studies researcher today as regards gothic youth cultures and calls for the reinforcement of the poor knowledge we have of the evolution of these cultures in the last 20 years.