Cultural Studies

«While cultural studies is fond of ruminating over its definition of itself, perhaps the prior problem is the definition of its presumed object: culture. Raymond Williams once wrote famously, if a bit obviously, that ‘culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language’ (Keywords, London: Fontana, 1976, 87). The sea-changes in anthropology since the 1960s and the rise of cultural studies and postcolonial theory have only complicated things much further. Today, the erstwhile notion of culture as a shared thing—a system of customs, values, practices, beliefs, symbols, or meanings, or a whole way of life subsuming all of these—appears both politically naïve and politically suspect.» (Doug Aoki, «The Thing of Culture», UTQ 65: 2 (Spring1996), p. 404)

«In Great Britain, the terms cultural criticism and cultural studies have been used more or less interchangeably, and, to add to the confusion, both terms have been used to refer to two different things. On the one hand, they have been used to refer to the analysis of literature (including popular literature) and other art forms in their social, political, or economic contexts; on the other hand, they have been used to refer to the much broader inter-disciplinary study of the interrelationships between a variety of cultural discourses and practices (such as advertising, gift-giving, and racial categorization). In North America, the term cultural studies is usually reserved for this broader type of analysis, whereas cultural criticism typically refers to work with a predominantly literary or artistic focus.» (Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, Boston and New York: Bedford Books, 1997, p. 65)

«[If] cultural studies does not mean that we have to abandon the study of what have been historically identified as the domains of high culture… it does challenge us to study them in radically new ways.» (Cary Nelson, in What is Cultural Studies? Ed. John Storey, London, New York, Sidney: Arnold, 1997, p. 279.