Cultural Studies and Communication

Cultural Studies and Communication


COMM 519
Spring 2012
Thurs. 2:00-4:50
Annenberg 223AB
Prof. Robeson Taj Frazier
office: ASC 326A
office hours: Thurs 11-12
and by appt.


Cultural Studies and Communication

Course description

This class is an introduction to the theoretical foundations of and contemporary work in cultural studies, with a particular emphasis on the study of media, popular culture, consumer culture, and communication. As an examination of cultural institutions, ideologies, artifacts, and productions, work in cultural studies is concerned with the integral relationship of cultural practices to relationships of power.However, despite the increased use of “cultural studies” among academicians and scholars, there is a widespread confusion as to what it really means to use the term. Part of what we will do in this class is wrestle with the disciplining of cultural studies, by looking at the history of cultural studies within academia, as well as the ways in which it is presently situated both intellectually and publicly. The course examines the foundations of cultural studies in both its British and American traditions, and focuses on several of its fundamental points of inquiry -- power relations, cultural production and consumption, identity and difference, and subcultures as well as its investigation into questions of academic disciplines and the various meanings of culture.

Course requirements
Students are expected to do all readings in preparation for class, to participate fully in class discussions, to produce and participate in well-thought out, engaged class presentations, and to complete a final paper. You will be evaluated on the basis of class presentations, your participation in class discussions, and on a final paper. Grades will be established on the following basis: Three presentations, 30%, class participation, 20%, final paper 50%.

Weekly group presentation/questions:Each class will include a critical analysis of a reading(s) and questions posed by that week’s group of presenters. These are intended to offer an analytically sharp, well-reasoned, critical analysis of the readingswhere concepts are considered and defined precisely. (Each presentation is worth 10% (each student will present 3 times) for a total of 30%). The class presentation should begin with be a 15-20 minute oral presentation on a selected reading(s). In the presentation you should consider key themes that stood out to you in the reading, or key themes/debates occurring between the readings. During the presentation you should also considerthe readings’ relationship to your own project/research. The second part of the presentation is that your group should collectively pose 6-8 questions about the readings and their themes to the group (all questions should be emailed to the class list-serve the Wednesday before our Thursday discussion). The class presentations are worth 30% of your final grade.

Final paper: A 12-15 page paper is due Monday, May 7 by 10 am in my mailbox in Annenberg Facilities Office, ASC 223. This paper does not have to be a “research” paper (for example, involving the gathering of data), but does have to have a clearly articulated research question and theory application. The paper must examine some text, event, politics, or identity formation that is informed in some way by cultural studies and which is in conversation with themes and readings from class. (50%)

Class participation: This is a graduate seminar, and I expect every student to come to class prepared for a discussion of that day’s reading. My pedagogical philosophy hinges on dynamic class discussion, and is based on mutual respect; all students are encouraged to use the classroom as a space in which to speak and to voice their opinions, as well as respect diverging points of view. (Class participation is worth 20%)

Required Books

There are severalbooks required for the class; additional assigned readings will be made available on blackboard and are listed as “BB”. The books are available at any academic bookseller on-line (this is cheaper than the bookstore):

  • Simon During, The Cultural Studies Reader (2nd edition)(labeled as “SD”)—AVAILABLE ON BLACKBOARD
  • David Morley and Kuan-Hising Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (labeled as “SH”)
  • Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony
  • Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora
  • Iain Borden, Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body
  • Tricia Rose, Black Noise
  • Rey Chow, Writing Diaspora
  • Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism As Exception


Any student requesting academic accommodations based on disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

Reading Schedule

Week 1, January 12: Introduction and overview

Week 2, January 19: Historicizing Defining Cultural Studies

  • Stuart Hall, “Cultural Studies and its theoretical legacies,” (SD)
  • Simon During, “Introduction,” (SD)
  • Carol Steedman, “Culture, Cultural Studies, and the Historians,” (SD)
  • Graham Murdock, “Cultural Studies: Missing Links,” (BB)
  • Allen O’Connor, “The Problem of American cultural studies,”(BB)
  • Todd Gitlin, “The Anti-Political Populism of Cultural Studies,” (BB)

Week 3, January 26: Culturalism/Cultural Pluralism

  • Raymond Williams, “Culture is Ordinary,” (BB)
  • “The Analysis of Culture,” (BB)
  • “Culture and Society – Introduction, pg. 119-139, 270-303” (BB)
  • Richard Hoggart, “The Full Rich Life & The Newer Mass Art: Sex in Shiny Packets” (BB)
  • Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel, “The Young Audience,” (BB)
  • Stuart Hall, “Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and the Cultural Turn,” (BB)
  • EP Thompson, “Preface from The Making of the English Working Class,” (BB)
  • William H. Sewell, Jr., “How Classes are Made: Critical Reflections on E. P. Thompson's Theory of Working-Class Formation,” (BB)
  • James Clifford, “On collecting art and culture,” (SD)

Week 4, February 2: Marxism and the Study of Culture

  • Karl Marx, “The German Ideology,” (BB)
  • “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,” (BB)
  • Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” (SD)
  • Theodor Adorno, “On Popular Music,” (BB)
  • Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” (BB)
  • Raymond Williams, “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory.” (BB)

Week 5, February 9:Post-Structuralist Critiques and Theory

  • Michel Foucault, “Space, Power, and Knowledge,” (SD)
  • “Panopticism” from Discipline and Punish (BB)
  • Two Lectures” from Power/Knowledge (BB)
  • Pierre Bourdieu, “The Aesthetic Sense as the Sense of Distinction,” (BB),
  • “The Forms of Capital,” (BB)
  • “The Aristocracy of Culture,” (BB)
  • Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” (BB)
  • Peter Stalley & Allon White, “The City, the Sewer, the Gaze, and the Contaminating Touch,” (BB)

Week 6, February 16:Stuart Hall

  • Stuart Hall, “The Problem of Ideology: Marxism Without Guarantees.” (SH)
  • “Gramsci’s Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity” (SH)
  • “For Allon White: Metaphors of transformation,” (SH)
  • “Encoding, Decoding,” (SD)
  • Antonio Gramsci, “Americanism and Fordism,” in Prison Notebooks pg. 558-622, (BB)
  • Jorge Larrain, “Stuart Hall and the Marxist Conception of Ideology.” (SH)
  • Colin Sparks, “Stuart Hall, Cultural Studies, and Marxism” (SH)
  • Lawrence Grossberg, “History, politics and postmodernism: Stuart hall and cultural studies,” (SH)
  • Jennifer Slack, "The Theory and Method of Articulation in Cultural Studies" (SH)

Week 7, February 23: Postmodernism and Post-Marxism

  • Ernesto Laclau with Chantal Mouffe, “Post Marxism without Apologies,” (BB)
  • Jean Francois Lyotard, “Defining the postmodern,” (SD)
  • Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism,” (BB)
  • Jean Baudrillard, “Simulcra and Simulations: The Precession of Simulcra,” (BB)
  • Richard Rorty, “Habermas and Lyotard on post-modernity,” (BB)
  • Dick Hebdige, “Postmodernism and ‘the other side’,” (SH)
  • Kuan-Hising Chen, “Post-Marxism: between/beyond critical postmodernism and cultural studies,” (SH)
  • David Morley, “Euram, modernity, reason, and alterity: or, postmodernism, the highest stage of cultural imperialism,” (SH)

Week 8, March 1:Postcolonialism and “Globalization”

  • bell hooks, “Postmodern Blackness,” (BB)
  • Cornel West, “Black Postmodernist Practices,” (BB)
  • Edward Said, “Orientalism Revisited,” (BB)
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (BB)
  • “Scattered Speculation on the Question of Cultural Studies,” (SD)
  • Homi K. Bhabha, “The Postcolonial and the Postmodern: The Question of Agency,” (SD)
  • David Forgacs, “National-Popular: Genealogy of a concept,” (SD)
  • Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” (SD)
  • Stratton and Ang, “On the impossibility of a global cultural studies: ‘British’ cultural studies in an ‘international’ frame” (SH)

Week 9, March 8:Race, Ethnicity, Nation

  • Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora
  • Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” (BB)
  • “New Ethnicities,” (SH)


Week 10, March 22: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Entertainment

  • Tricia Rose, Black Noise
  • John Clarke, Stuart Hall, Tony Jefferson, & Brian Roberts, “Subcultures, Cultures and Class: A theoretical overview,” (BB)
  • Jared Ball, “I Mix What I Like: In Defense and Appreciation of the Rap Music Mixtape as “National” and “Dissident” Communication,” (BB)

Week 11, March 29: Geography, Everyday Life and Cultural Space

  • Iain Borden, Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body
  • Michel De Certeau, “Walking in the City.” (SD)
  • Dick Hebdige, “The Function of Subculture,” (SD

Week 12, April 5: Gender and Sexuality

  • Teresa de Lauretis, “Upping the Anti(Sic) in Feminist Theory,” (SD)
  • Judith Butler, “Subjects of sex/gender/desire,” (SD)
  • Charlotte Brunsdon, “A thief in the night: stories of feminism in the 1970s at CCCS” (SH)
  • Michael Ralph, “Killing Time.” (BB)
  • Radhika Parameswaran, “Global Queens, National Celebrities:Tales of Feminine Triumph inPost-Liberalization India.”(BB)
  • “Reading Fictions of Romance Gender, Sexuality, and Nationalism in Postcolonial India.” (BB)

Week 13, April 12:

  • Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony
  • Kuan Hsing-Chen interview of Stuart Hall, “Cultural Studies and the politics of

internationalization,” (SH)

Week 14, April 19:

  • Rey Chow, Writing Diaspora

Week 15, April 26: Neoliberalism

  • Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism As Exception
  • Wendy Brown, “Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy.” (BB)