'This is the most lucid and engaged account of Stuart Hall's work. Meticulously, and with an exemplary generosity, Helen Davis patiently unravels the threads of Hall's intellectual history. The result is a most useful and thoughtful book, which could prove to be indispensable for students of cultural studies' - Graeme Turner, University of Queensland Understanding Stuart Hall traces the development of one of the most influential and respected figures within cultural studies. Focusing on Stuart Hall's writings over a period of nearly fifty years, this volume offers students and academics a cogent and exploratory route through complex and overlapping areas of analysis. In her critical assessment of Hall's most important contributions to academic and public debate, Davis shows the extent to which his analyses of race and ethnicity have been informed by early studies of Marxism, class and 'societies structured in dominance'. Davis offers fresh insight into the formation of one of the most prolific, charismatic and controversial intellectuals of his generation. Despite having been branded a 'cultural pessimist', Stuart Hall has long been associated with encouraging new, cutting-edge scholarship within the field. This volume concludes with a discussion of Hall's most recent political and academic interventions and his continuing commitment to innovation within the visual arts.

The Media in Question

The media in question

But of course the real world is not outside of discourse; it's not outside of signification. It's practice and discourse like everything else. (Hall, quoted in Cruz and Lewis, 1994: 261)


In this chapter we will examine Hall's interpretations of Gramsci and Althusser, in order to explore his developing arguments concerning the ideological functions of the mass media. By examining his analyses of the mass media and their contexts, I intend to trace the development of Hall's argument concerning media activity and the political landscape. From the warnings given in The Popular Arts we can see how Hall's original concerns begin to find more cogent and sustained expression, particularly through his focus on television and the press.

As we saw ...

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