Princess Di has recently found her place on the shelf of cultural studies texts. And whether that place is well-deserved or not, a recent volume on Princess Di reminds me of the earlier days when folks outside the fold of cultural studies spoke dismissively of it as “Madonna Studies.”
Unlike those critics, I have felt that a part of the job of cultural studies teachers was to make available to their students critical readings of the world outside the classroom. Sometimes, as during the Persian Gulf War, I had felt an absence of teaching materials. At other times, like the Anita Hill hearings, the Rodney King riots, the O.J. trial, or even the silliness of the Bill-Monica affair, I have profited from the smart readings provided by my colleagues in the field.
However, in attending to the events outside the walls of the academy, cultural studies practitioners have often forgotten about the crucial site where these oppositional knowledges are mobilized: the classroom. This series with Garland—“Cultural Studies in the Classroom”—is a response to that particular lack.
Books in this series aim to focus on the deployment of cultural studies knowledges in the pedagogical space where teachers spend such a large part of their time. By paying particular attention to the classroom, we bring cultural studies back to our students.
This also functions as a reality check. What—and how—are our students learning? Paradoxically, it is only by returning to these questions in the academy that we escape the danger of having remained merely academic. If we do this work well, cultural studies as an intellectual project in the future might have a shelf life that is longer than dead princesses'.
University of Florida