This original, sharp, and engaging book draws the reader into a compelling exploration of cultural studies in the twenty-first century. It offers a level-headed account of where cultural studies has come from, the methodological and theoretical dilemmas that it faces today, and an agenda for its future development. In an age in which the relevance of cultural studies has been called into question, this book seeks to generate debate. Focusing upon the actual practice of cultural studies within higher education today, it asks whether or not cultural studies has really managed to maintain a connection with its original political and ethical mission and comments on the strategies needed to regain the initiative.

Introduction: Practising Cultural Studies Today

Introduction: Practising cultural studies today


At the third international Crossroads of Cultural Studies conference, hosted at the legendary point of origin, Birmingham's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, in 2000, the Anglo-American expansion of cultural studies was probably at its peak. There were 800 papers organized in 11 parallel sessions across three days. Many of these papers revealed the influence of the key fashion of the day–largely, sophisticated textual analyses in the service of identity politics. An often repeated story, perhaps apocryphal but nonetheless still resonant, has it that one of the founding fathers of cultural studies, when leafing through his copy of the book of abstracts (a sizable object) after he arrived at the conference, was heard to ask, sadly: ‘Is this what we have become?’

This anecdote circulated at the time, ...

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