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ENGL 7800: Introduction to Cultural Studies
Spring 2015

Dr. Paula R. Backscheider
9082 Haley Center
(334) 844-9091
Office Hours: Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Course Description:
In the last twenty years, cultural studies approaches have come to be the dominant methodology for publications in English studies. Interdisciplinary from its beginning, its roots are in cultural anthropology, British social history, popular culture, new historicism, exegesis, and identity politics. The seminar's emphasis will be on formative theoretical texts and on analyzing the ways that that literature influences individuals and intervenes in public opinion. Because several kinds of cultural studies have now become mature (or quickly maturing) fields in their own rights, we will study at least two of them, including "everyday life" and "celebrity studies." Some assignments will allow seminar members to apply methodologies to their own special interests. Readings will include novels, a play, and essays by theorists including Joseph Roach, Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams, John Storey, and John Fiske.

My teaching evaluations are on my website.


January 20: Introduction. Raymond Williams, "The Analysis of Culture" from The Long Revolution, 41-71; Stuart Hall, "Culture, Community, Nation" from Representing the Nation, 33-44; Glenn Jordan and Chris Weedon, "When the Subalterns Speak, What Do They Say? Radical Cultural Politics in Cardiff Docklands," from Without Guarantees, 165- 80.

27: Venice Preserved debate. Clifford Geertz, "Thick Description," chapter one from The Interpretation of Cultures.

February 3: Samuel Johnson, "Preface" to A Dictionary to the English Language; Fredric Jameson, "Metacommentary," PMLA 86:1 (1971): 9-18.

Endless complication in the interest of simplicity.--Clifford Geertz

10: Joseph Roach, It, 1-116; Laura Engel, Fashioning Celebrity, Introduction. "Einstein"

17: Engel, "Sarah Siddon's Diva Celebrity" from Fashioning Celebrity; Heather MacPherson, "Theatrical Celebrity and the Commodification of the Actor" from The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre, 1737-1832, 192-212; Joe Roach, It, 138-73.

24: Reports on "It" people. "Silk"

Igniting what sounded ... like a revival of the culture wars of the 1990s, in which works of art became fodder for intense political debate. --Michael Cooper, NYTimes, 21 October 2014

March 3: Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, pp. 1-middle of p. 158, 432 (Aug. 23)-517.

10: Clarissa continued. Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, Essay 1, pp. 3-40, and Essay 2, only pp. 41-51, 59-68.

17: Reviews of articles due. Clarissa, continued. Bakhtin, Essay 4, only the following:
pp. 259-75
from "In actual fact," 291-300
from "hybrid construction," 304-305
from "The author manifests," 313-24
"The Speaking Person," 331-66, 388
from "All this" 409-422.


The most intense and productive life of a culture takes place on the boundaries.
Mikhail Bakhtin, Speech Genres

March 31: John Fiske, "Cultural Studies and the Culture of Everyday Life" from Cultural Studies, 154-73; Rudolf Arnheim, "Centers as Hubs," from The Power of the Center, 109-32; Bruce McConachie, "Using the Concept of Cultural Hegemony to Write Theatre History" from Interpreting the Theatrical Past, 37-58.

April 7: Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield; Pierre Bourdieu, "Social Space and Symbolic Space," chapter one of Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, 1-13;

14: Reports on journals. Stuart Hall, "Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms" from Contemporary Literary Criticism, 664-78.

The study of world literature might be the study of the way in which cultures recognize themselves.
-Homi Bhabha

21: Kate Chopin, The Awakening; Erving Goffman, "Introduction" from The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1-9.

28: Ann Bermingham, "Elegant Females and Gentlemen Connoisseurs" in The Consumption of Culture, 1600-1800: Image, Object, Text, 489-513; John Storey, "Popular Culture as an Arena of Hegemony" from Inventing Popular Culture, 48-62; application of theory to primary texts.