A Question of Discipline: Pedagogy, Power, and the Teaching of Cultural Studies

By Joyce E. Canaan; Debbie Epstein | Go to book overview

2
Theory, Area Studies,
Cultural Studies: Issues of Pedagogy
in Multiculturalism

Rey Chow

I would say that there is no future for literary studies as such in the United States. Increasingly, those students are being taken over by the astonishing garbage called 'cultural criticism'. ( Harold Bloom, cited in Shulman 1994: 75)

Unfortunately, the negative view toward Cultural Studies expressed by Harold Bloom is not unique to him. It is shared by many teachers of the humanities in North America, in particular the United States. What is perhaps peculiar about such openly negative sentiments toward Cultural Studies is that they often come from those who, during the 1960s and 1970s, were staunch promoters and defenders of what is called 'theory', when theory itself was derogated and attacked by reactionary humanists as some metaphysical garbage that found its way from continental Europe to the higher education sectors of North American society. 1 Arguments against theory then sounded similar to the arguments against Cultural Studies today, not least by way of the charge that theory, by paying attention to the ideological assumptions that lie behind language, text, and discourse, was introducing issues that were, properly speaking, not about (the intrinsic qualities of) literature itself but instead about philosophy, sociology, and so forth. Twenty some years later, many of those who took pride in the race for theory are precisely the ones who back away from Cultural Studies. Why?


Genealogical Affinities Between
Theory and Cultural Studies

The brief history of Cultural Studies -- its origins in the class-conscious analyses of popular culture in England, in particular the work under

-11-

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