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

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

ers who have issued this call within Cultural Studies a concern that Cultural Studies be a force for positive social and political change. Their reflections are indicative of the fact that, in the United States at least, Cultural Studies is no longer marginalised within higher education. These writers are seeking to identify a project or a feature of Cultural Studies (for example, theory for Rooney; an alternative to the liberal humanities for Denning; and an anti-scientific epistemology for Aronowitz) that will ensure its radicalism. As I have emphasised, these considered reflections are valuable invitations to re-evaluation and debate. But there is a strong existential dimension to their quest: these commentators are searching for some grand reassurance that they are on the 'right' ('left'?) track as radical teachers and practitioners of Cultural Studies. While I admire their posing of these questions and their considered proposals, I think that this Cultural Studies teacher has resigned herself to the fact that there can be no grand reassurance. For me, being a Cultural Studies teacher in the 1990s involves accepting and acknowledging considerable uncertainty about the relationship between my desire for social and political change, my practices as a Cultural Studies teacher, and the realisation of positive social and political transformation.


Notes

My thank to Michael Green for his insightful comments on an earlier draft of this chapter, Laura Quinn and Peter Schwenger for some key useful references, and Joyce Canaan and Debbie Epstein for helpful editing.

1.
The chapter was amended in response to comments from readers, and the final version was prepared in the midst of my return to Cultural Studies teaching.
2.
For a discussion of 'some of the arguments for and against academic codification of cultural studies', see Johnson ( 1983: 1-7).
3.
Straw ( 1993: 101) comments that 'distance and a high level of publishing activity may very often disguise fragile and marginalized conditions for intellectual work, as many who made the pilgrimage to Birmingham in the 1980s would discover'.
4.
Together with other teachers at CCCS, I also taught a 'service' course for the Education faculty during these years, but this was a minor part of our activities.
5.
Although I do remember that some school teachers and those with experience of adult education were often critical of the form and practices of the MA course at CCCS.
6.
Spivak's observation is presented, in her analysis of Margaret Drabble text The Waterfall, as deriving from 'the cautions of deconstruction' and is used to suggest the need for 'different forms of understanding, different forms of change'. Haraway's commentary is focused on the representation of natural objects/subjects: 'Who speaks for the jaguar? Who speaks for the fetus? Both questions rely on a political semiotics of representation. Permanently speechless, forever requiring the

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