Chapter 9: Cultural Studies

Chapter 9:
Cultural Studies
A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature
I. Defining Cultural Studies
• “Culture” is hard to define and so is “cultural studies”
• It is not so much a discrete approach as a set of
practices influenced by many fields
• It concentrates on social and cultural forces that either
create community or cause division and alienation
• Four goals: (1) transcending confines of a particular
discipline, (2) remaining politically engaged, (3)
denying the separation of high and low culture, and
(4) analyzing the means of production as well as
• Joins subjectivity to engagement
II. U.S. Ethnic Studies
A. African American Writers
• Gates: uses “race” in quotation marks as “a
dangerous trope”
• The Other
• Du Bois: double-consciousness
II. U.S. Ethnic Studies
A. African American Writers (cont’d)
• Sollors, Appiah, Morrison
• African American women writers versus male protest
• Irony, autobiography, naturalism, tragedy
• Myth of persecuted people (cf Hebrews)
• Periods of Colonial, Antebellum, Reconstruction, preWorld War II, Harlem Renaissance, Naturalism and
Modernism, Contemporary
II. U.S. Ethnic Studies
B. Latina/o Writers
• Problem of naming Latina/os
• Gender differences
• History of the United States and Mexico
• Anzaldúa; code-switching; mestizaje
• La Virgen, La Malinche, La Llorona
II. U.S. Ethnic Studies
C. Native American Literatures
• Oral versus written traditions, traditional
versus mainstream
• ritual, performance, community; art not
disconnected from everyday life
• Occom, Apess, Hopkins, Mournin Dove,
Zitkala-a, Erdrich, Harjo
II. U.S. Ethnic Studies
D. Asian American Writers
• Autobiography
• Immigrant literature (paper sons and picture
• Women overshadow men
• Far, Kingston, Tan, new Pacific voices
III. Postmodernism and Popular
A. Postmodernism
• Modernist literature recognized fragmentation and alienation
of life but mourned them; postmodernism celebrates them
• Disillusionment with institutions; irony, ambiguity, selfconscious play of meanings, parody, pastiche; suspicion and
subversion of “master narratives”
• Eagleton: postmodernism offers a “depthless, decentered,
ungrounded, self-reflexive, playful, derivative, unstable,
indeterminate, eclectic, pluralistic” meaning
• Eco: awareness of “the already said”
• Baudrillard: “simulacra” of “real” objects
III. Postmodernism and Popular
B. Popular Culture
• Production
• Textual
• Audience
• Historical analyses
• “Subject-positions”

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