• Cultural Studies Critics - Shmoop
  • Cultural Criticism - Washington State University
  • What Is Cultural Studies - Academic Room
  • What is Cultural Criticism? - University of Saskatchewan

How To Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies

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Cultural Studies criticizes the traditional view of the passive consumer, particularly by underlining the different ways people receive and interpret cultural texts, or appropriate other kinds of cultural products, or otherwise participate in the production and circulation of meanings. On this view, a consumer can appropriate, actively rework or challenge the meanings circulated through cultural texts. In some of its variants, then, cultural studies has thus shifted the analytical focus from (traditional understandings of) production to consumption, which is nevertheless understood as a form of production (of meanings, of identities, etc.) in its own right. , , and others have been influential in these developments.

In most universities, cultural studies has no home at all, which means (among other things) that graduate students doing work in cultural studies have to hope they'll be hired in some congenial department that has a cultural-studies component. The good news on that front is that you can now find cultural-studies scholars working in anthropology, in critical geography, even in kinesiology. In "museum studies" and cultural ethnography, in the work of Mike Davis and Edward W. Soja on cities, and in analyses of West African soccer clubs or the career of Tiger Woods, cultural studies has cast a wide net. The bad news is that the place where cultural studies has arguably had the greatest impact is in English departments. And though people in English departments habitually forget this, English departments are just a tiny part of the university. Cultural studies may find some sympathetic receptions in some wings of some departments of modern languages, in communications, in education, in history, or anthropology. But it hasn't had much of an impact on sociology, at least not compared with cultural studies in Britain, where cultural studies engaged critically (and often caustically) with sociology from the outset.

Reviews

Katz: "Postmodern Cultural Studies: A Critique"