Roland Barthes on the nature of literary
language and Claude Lévi-Strauss on
anthropology, cultural studies was
influenced by structuralism and post
 Patrick Brantlinger pointed out, cultural
studies is not “a tightly coherent unified
movement with a fixed agenda,” but a
“loosely coherent group of tendencies,
issues and questions.”
Roland Barthes
First, cultural studies transcends
the confines of a particular
discipline such as literary
criticism or history.
Critical Inquiry, one of the
most influential journals
about cultural studies.
Henry Giroux said that ‘cultural
studies practitioners are
“resisting intellectuals” who see
what they do as “an
emancipatory project” because
it erodes the traditional
disciplinary divisions in most
institutions of higher education.’
Cultural studies involves scrutinizing the
cultural phenomenon of a text and
drawing conclusions about the changes in
textual phenomena over time.
Boundary 2
Second, cultural studies is politically engaged.
Cultural critics see themselves as “oppositional,”
not only within their own disciplines but to many
of the power structures of society at large.
Meaning and individual subjectivity are culturally
constructed , they can be thus reconstructed.
The picture of the online
journal Representations
Pierre Bourdieu, one of the
theorists who explores how
“good taste” often reflects
social, economic, and
political power bases.
Third, cultural studies denies the separation of “high” and
“low” or elite and popular (mass) culture.
Cultural critics today work to transfer the term culture to
include mass culture, whether popular, folk, or urban
Drawing upon the ideas of
Michel de Certeau, cultural
critics examine the
“practice of everyday life.”
Rather than
determining which
are the “best” works
produced, cultural
critics describe what
is produced and how
various productions
relate to one
Cultural critics aim to reveal the political, economic
reasons why a certain cultural product is more baled at
certain times than others.
Johnny Depp’s funky performance in Disney’s Pirates of
the Caribbean: The course of the Black Pearl (2003) – real
pirates of the Caribbean such as Blackbeard and Henry
Blackbeard the pirate
Henry Morgan was a harddrinking, hard-fighting
charismatic badass privateer
The book cover of Janice
Radway’s Reading Romance:
Women, Patriarchy and
Popular Literature.
Finally, cultural
studies analyzes
not only the
cultural work, but
also the means of
Cultural studies joins subjectivity– that is,
culture in relation to individual lives–
with engagement, a direct approach to
attacking social ills.
Poster for The Bride of
Frankenstein (1935),
directed by James
British Cultural
New Historicism
Postmodernism and
Popular Culture
Postcolonial Studies
Cultural materialism began in
earnest in the 1950s with the
work of F. R. Leavis, heavily
influenced by Matthew
Arnold’s analyses of
bourgeois culture.
Cultural Materialism: Theory
and Practice by Scott Wilson.
Cultural Studies is referred to
as “Cultural Materialism” in
As a return to historical scholarship, new
historicism concerns itself with
extraliterary matters– letters, diaries, films,
paintings, medical treatises– looking to
reveal opposing historical tensions in a text.
Frederic Jameson insisted,
“Always historicize!”
From Hayden White, cultural
studies practitioners learned how
figurative relationships between
present and past tropes are shaped
by historical discourses.
New historicists
seek “surprising
coincidences” that
may cross generic,
historical, and
cultural lines in
borrowings of
ceremony, or
popular culture.
For Michel Foucault,
history was not the
working out of
“universal” ideas.
The new historicism rejects the
periodization of history in favor of ordering
history only through the interplay of forms
of power.
African American Writers
Latina/o Writers
American Indian Literatures
4. Asian American Writers
Henry Louis Gates
uses the word “race”
only in quotation
African American Writing often
displays a folkloric conception of a
humankind; a “double
consciousness,” as W.E.B. DuBois
called it, arising from bicultural
identity; irony, parody, tragedy and
bitter comedy in negotiating this
ambivalence; attacks upon
presumed white cultural superiority;
a naturalistic focus on survival’ and
inventive reframing of language
itself, as in language games like
W. E. B. Du Bois, circa 1907
and “rapping.”
The Harlem Renaissance (19181937) signaled a tremendous
upsurge in black culture, with an
especial interest in primitivist
art the so-called New Negroes.
Langston Hughes was a
prominent member of the Harlem
Renaissance -- a movement during
the 1920s of black writers and
intellectuals who engaged in
intense debate regarding the
place of the African American in
American life, and on the role and
identity of the African-American
Pictured here are Langston
Hughes [far left] with [left to right:]
Charles S. Johnson, E. Franklin
Frazier, Rudolph Fisher and
Hubert T. Delaney, on a Harlem
rooftop on the occasion of a party
in Hughes' honor, 1924.
Spanish-speaking people in
the United States.
The majority of Mexican
residents stayed in place,
transformed into Mexican
Americans with a stroke of
the pen.
One of the primary tropes in
Latina/o studies has to do
with the entire concept of
borders-borders between
nations, between cultures
and within cultures.
“Code-switching” is a border
phenomenon studied by
linguists. Speakers who
code-switch move back and
forth between Spanish and
English, for instance, or
resort to the “Spanglish” of
border towns.
Liminality, or “betweeness”
is characteristic of
postmodern experience but On Edge: The Crisis of Contemporary Latin
American Culture By George Yudice , Jean
also has special
Franco , Juan Flores
connotations for Latina/o.
In predominantly oral
cultures, storytelling passes
on religious beliefs, moral
values, political codes, and
practical lessons of everyday
life. For American Indians,
stories are a source of
strength in the face of
centuries of silencing by
American Indian is often
preferred by Indians over ”
Native American”
Two types of Indian literature have
evolved as fields of study.
 Traditional Indian literature
includes tales, songs, and oratory.
 Mainstream Indian literature refers
to works written by Indians in
English in the traditional genres of
fiction, poetry and autobiography.
 Momaday’s House Made of
Dawn(1968), which won the
Pulitzer Prize, and his memoir, The
way to Rainy Mountain(1969),
beginning a renaissance of Indian
fiction and poetry.
Edward Said has written of
orientalism, or the tendency to
objectify and exoticize Asians, and
their work has sought to respond to
such stereotyping.
Asian American literature can be
said to have begun around the turn
of the 20th century, primarily with
autobiographical “paper son”
stories and “confessions.”
Paper son stories were carefully
fabricated for Chinese immigrant men
to make the authorities believe that
their New World sponsors were really
their fathers.
Asian American autobiography
inherited these descriptive strategies,
as Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman
Warriors: Memoirs of Girlhood Among
Ghosts(1976) illustrates.
Identity may be individually known
within but is not always at home in the
outward community.
Maxine Hong Kingston
has won the National Book Critics
Circle Award (for /The Woman
Chinese women make up the largest
and most influential group of Asian
American writers.
 Jade Snow Wong’s female
Bildungsroman was called Fifth
Chinese Daughter.
 Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club (1989)
traces the lives of four Chinese
women immigrants starting in 1949,
when they form their mah-jongg
club and swap stories of life in China;
these mother’s vignettes alternate
Directed by Wayne Wang
with their daughters’ stories.
Postmodernism questions everything
rationalist European philosophy held to be
Beginning in the mid-1980s, postmodernism
emerged in art, architecture, music, film,
literature, sociology, communications,
fashion and other field.
Postmodernism borrows from modernism
Jean-François Lyotard disillusionment with the givens of society; a
argues that stability is penchant for irony; the self-conscious “play”
within the work of art; fragmentation and
maintained through
ambiguity; and a destructured, decentered,
“grand narratives.”
dehumanized subject.
Postmodernism and Popular Culture
Postmodernism argues
that it is all contingent
and that most cultural
constructions have
served the function of
empowering members
of a dominant social
group at the expense of
Jean Baudrillard describes
the “simulacra” of
postmodern life which
have taken the place of
“real” objects.
They assess how such
factors as ethnicity, race,
gender, class, age, region
and sexuality are shaped by
and reshaped in popular
There are four main types
of popular culture analysis:
production analysis, textual
analysis, audience analysis,
and historical analysis.
These analyses seek to get
beneath the surface
(denotative) meanings and
examine more implicit
(connotation) social meanings
Production analysis asks the following
kinds of questions: who owns the media?
Who creates texts and why? Under what
Textual analysis examines how specific
works of popular culture create
Audiences analysis asks how different
groups of popular culture consumers, or
users, make similar or different sense of
the same texts.
Historical analysis investigates how
these other three other three
dimensions change over time.
Edward Said’s concept
of Orientalism was an
important touchstone to
postcolonial studies.
Postcolonialism refers to a historical phase undergone by the Third
World countries after the decline of colonialism.
“others” constructs them based upon Western anxieties and
preoccupations. Said sharply critiques the Western images of the
Oriental as “irrational, depraved (fallen), child-like, ‘different,’” which
has allowed the West to define itself as “rational, virtuous, mature,
Frantz Fanon drew upon his
own horrific experiences in
French Algeria to
deconstruct emerging
national regimes.
Many Third World
writers focus on
both colonialism
and the changes
created in a
Homi K. Bhabha says that what drives white people to
take over the world and spread their way of doing things
is not power or even wanting to get rich, but their
screwed-up way of looking at the world.
Homi K. Bhabha’s
postcolonial theory involves analysis of nationality,
ethnicity, and politics with poststructuralist ideas of identity and
indeterminacy, defining postcolonial identities as shifting, hybrid
Among postcolonial feminism is Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who
examines the effects of political independence upon “subaltern” or
subproletarian women in the Third World.
Reveal how female subjects are silenced by the dialogue between
the male-dominated West and East, offering little hope for the
subaltern woman’s voice to rise up amidst the global social
institutions that oppress her.
Munns, Jessica and Gita, Rajan. Eds. A Cultural Studies Reader:
History, Theory, Practice. London :Longman, 1995.
 Ono A. Kent. Ed. A Companion to Asian American Studies.
Malden: Blackwell Press, 2005.
 Schwarz, Henry and Sangeeta, Ray. Eds. A Companion to
Postcolonial Studies. Malden, MA :Blackwell Press, 2000.
 Power, Dominic and Scott, Allen J. Eds. Cultural Industries
and the Production of Culture. New York: Routledge, 2004.
 Representations.
 <<文化研究月報>>。
 M. butterfly :

Cultural Studies - National Chiao Tung University