Why Cultural Studies?

whyWhy Cultural Studies? is a rallying call for a reinvigoration of the project of cultural studies. I argue that cultural studies practitioners need to focus on the lessons embedded in the project’s past while also reinventing how cultural studies is currently being done, in order to ensure that it has a vibrant and viable future.

I argue in favor of cultural studies as an intellectual and political pursuit, while contending that it is not, and never should be, solely an academic subject. Rather, it is a project that is open to contributions from academics and nonacademics alike. I assert the need for cultural studies to revive its understanding of itself as a politically interventionist project that has an important role to play in promoting social justice and building a better world.

The Race and Media Reader

rmrThe Race and Media Reader provides a wide-ranging introduction to major issues and debates surrounding the role that the media plays in ongoing struggles around race and racism in the US today. The essays collected here come from a variety of disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological perspectives, and focus on a broad range of media practices, racial and ethnic populations, and historical moments. These readings offer an intersectional approach to thinking about media and the politics of race, arguing that media representations of specific racial/ethnic identities need to be understood within the broader social, cultural, and economic contexts in which they circulate. Taken as a whole, this collection asks readers to take a critical stance on the media’s role as one of the most powerful institutions involved in the creation and maintenance of problematic racial hierarchies, and to consider ways of thinking and acting that might bring us closer to a world where racism no longer exists.

Race in Cyberspace

raceRace in Cyberspace was the first book-length scholarly approach to the racial politics of cyberspace, and helped to extend the broader conversation around what had been a major blind spot in the public and scholarly discourses on cyberculture. In the face of a widespread utopian discourse about cyberspace’s erasure of “troublesome” matters of identity politics (“There is no race,” a popular MCI commercial said about the Internet, “there are only minds”), Race in Cyberspace offers a series of compelling arguments for the extraordinarily powerful presence of race online, even in the absence of visible bodies.

Elvis After Elvis

elvisElvis After Elvis does more than merely explain Elvis Presley’s surprising posthumous status as a pervasive media icon: it also examines how larger questions of race, gender, class, religion, and the American Dream play themselves out in and through contemporary forms of US mass media. I argue that Elvis is a prominent point of articulation around which a variety of sociopolitical battles are fought. Examining Elvis, then, isn’t so much an end in and of itself as it is a way for us to understand and intervene in some of those struggles: e.g., to recognize and fight against institutionalized forms of racism, or to work for a broader and more democratic notion of what counts as “culture.”

Winner, First Annual Book Award, International Association for the Study of Popular Music (US branch), 1997

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