>A question for a cultural studies person -- do you think you could, very
>briefly, and in normal language, give a non-CS person an idea of where the
>major CS scholars -- e.g. Fiske, Ross, etc., diverge? Where is fiske, for
>instance, on the critical compass? Do such terms as radical and
>conservative mean anything? Is queer theory a dividing issue? Is CS
>crippled with divisions? I hope someone will give me a straight answer on
>this. I am engaged in a review of the critical literature on TV, and I
>can't make head or tail of the "CS" school, which at first apparance seems
>Department of History
>University of Notre Dame
This is a mighty big question to tackle in a single post, given the wide range of things that are considered to be CS. Even ignoring the growing (and problematic) tendency to take the term at its most literal (i.e., the overly inclusive notion that anyone who studies culture -- in part or in whole -- is doing CS), or the equally troublesome equation of CS to the study of popular culture (there are CS scholars who don't tackle pop culture and pop culture scholars who don't do CS), CS encompasses a fairly broad span of theoretical schools, methodological approaches, and objects of study. Broad enough that there's a fairly steady flow of essays attempting to (re)define the field, most of which point to various "tendencies" within the field while acknowledging that CS pretty much defies attempts to define it too rigorously.
To tackle the broader questions here, while there is a range of political positions within CS, it's still predominantly leftist in thought; I'm not sure if there's anyone out there who would call themselves "conservative" *and* willingly claim to be doing CS. And I don't see CS as being "crippled with divisions" -- around queer theory or anything else -- though this doesn't mean the field is somehow a unified whole. It *is* a fragmented and diverse field, but these "divisions" don't seem to me to be crippling in and of themselves. (Though, admittedly, they do lead to the sort of definitional confusion decsribed above.)
As for divvying the field up, I'd say that a *very* rough sketch of CS scholarship on TV could be mapped out along the following three axes:
Audience/fan studies -- e.g., Ien Ang, Charlotte Brunsdon, David Morley, Constance Penley, etc.
Semiotics and textual analysis -- e.g., John Fiske, Sut Jhally
Institutional and/or theoretical approaches -- e.g., Larry Grossberg, James Hay, Raymond Williams
There is, of course, a lot of slippage between these axes and there are
undoubtedly pieces of the field I've left off the map (or alternate ways to
divide the map up that might prove more useful), but I think this is a start
to answering your question.
Institute of Communications Research
Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign firstname.lastname@example.org
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