Toggle sidebar

ENGL 7800: Introduction to Cultural Studies
Spring 2011

Dr. Paula R. Backscheider
9082 Haley Center
(334) 844-9091

This seminar is an exploration of a few of the kinds of cultural studies being practiced today. Using Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, ed. John Storey (4th ed., 2009), we will begin with an overview of some of the most influential theories and turn to reading applied criticism. A few literary texts will provide practice fields. For example, we will read and apply various methodologies to Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, sometimes styled the most dialogic novel ever written, and to Frances Brooke’s History of Emily Montague, a novel that is set immediately after the British took Quebec and brings together the cultures of the Canadians, the French, the British, the “new Americans,” and the Hurons. Of special interest will be the ways that cultural studies theorizes the ways that literature participates in discussions of social problems and influences the lives of individuals and social groups. Among the topics for in-depth consideration are representation, power, popular culture, and normative hierarchies. Seminar members with all levels of familiarity with cultural studies– from none to extensive– are welcome. There will be some opportunity to tailor some assignments to individual interests. My teaching evaluations are on my website.

Requirements: Several short assignments, written and oral, and a research paper. Active participation is expected.

Required Texts:

  • Clarissa, by Samuel Richardson, ed. George Sherburn (Houghton Mifflin, now Cengage/Wadsworth, 1961). ISBN 0395051649
  • The Dialogic Imagination, by Mikhail Bakhtin (University of Texas Press, 1981). ISBN 9780292715349
  • History of Emily Montague, by Frances Brooke (McClelland & Steward, 1995). ISBN 0771034571
  • A Glossary of Cultural Theory, by Peter Brooker (Arnold/Oxford, 2004). ISBN 0340807016
  • Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Stephen Coote (Penguin Classics, 1982). ISBN 0140431594
  • Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, ed. John Storey 4th edition (Longman, 2009). ISBN 140587421X


Wittgenstein: "Don't ask for the meaning, ask for the use."

January 13:
Introduction to Cultural Studies. Declaration of Independence. Selection of cultural object.

January 20:
John Storey, "Introduction: The Study of Popular Culture and Cultural Studies," xv-xxi; Raymond Williams, "The Analysis of Culture," 32-40; Antonio Gramsci, "Hegemony, Intellectuals and the State," 75-80; Clifford Geertz, "Centers, Kings, and Charisma"**; Bruce McConachie, "Using the Concept of Cultural Hegemony to write Theatre History"**; John Fiske, "Cultural Studies and the Culture of Everyday Life."**

January 27:
Biography of the Object. Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, essays 1 and 4; Frances Brooke, History of Emily Montague, through Letter 8.

Fredric Jameson: "History is the indispensable precondition of a text."

February 3:
Brooke, History of Emily Montague; Reports from your assigned social group perspective.

February 10:
Reception History of the Object. Philip Dodd, "Englishness and the National Culture"**; E.P. Thompson, "Preface from The Making of the English Working Class," 41-44; Marx and Engels, "Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas," 58-59; Stuart Hall, "Culture, Community, Nation."**

February 17:
Samuel Richardson, Clarissa.

February 24:
Paper due on Object. Clarissa continued.

March 3:
Clarissa roundtable on criticism.

March 10:
Michael Foucault, "The Subject and Power"**; Matthew Arnold, "Culture and Anarchy," 6-11; Teresa de Lauretis, from Technologies of Gender, 1-30**; Lana Rakow, "Feminist Approaches to Popular Culture: Giving Patriarchy its Due," 183-98; Michel Foucault, "Method," 313-319.

Bakhtin: "The most intense and productive life of culture takes place on the boundaries."

March 24:
Oliver Goldsmith, Vicar of Wakefield; dialogic reports.

March 31:
Pierre Boudieu, "Distinction and the Aristocracy of Culture," 498-507; Stuart Hall, "Notes on Deconstructing the ‘Popular,’" 508-18; Bakhtin, Dialogic Imagination, essay 2.

Geertz: "Endless complication in the interest of simplicity."

April 14:
Revisiting the object, object as text – text as object. Terry Lovett, “Cultural Production,” 559-44; Michel de Certeau, “The Practice of Everyday Life,” 545-55; Glenn Jordan and Chris Weedon, “When the Subalterns Speak, What do they Say? Radical Cultural Politics in Cardiff Docklands.”**

March 21:
"John Fiske, "The Popular Economy," 564-580; Paula Backscheider, "Literary Culture as Immediate Reality."**

Research Reports

** On Blackboard