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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: July ::
Re: Cultural Studies and the Battle for British
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1659  Thursday, 18 July 2002

[1]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Jul 2002 15:07:09 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Cultural Studies and the Battle for British Higher Education

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Jul 2002 15:01:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Cultural Studies and the Battle for British Higher Education


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Jul 2002 15:07:09 +0100
Subject:        Re: ASIDE: Cultural Studies and the Battle for British Higher
Education

I think Richard Burt is right about that version of Cultural Studies
that he is describing. What was genuinely radical has now been exported,
and re-imported in the version he outlines.

I support Gilroy in his suggestion that (a) the closure of Cultural
Studies at Birmingham should be fought but also (and this is perhaps
where Richard and I disagree) (b) that this closure needs to be seen in
the much larger context of the crisis in British Higher Education.  Here
the late Bill Readings' version of 'cultural studies', modelled much
more on the US template isn't of much help to us.

The crisis has to do with the loosening of boundaries between
disciplines and not with what L. Swilley thinks of as an attack on
humanism. Gilroy's two-pronged argument is that 'Cultural Studies' is
now so widely disseminated that it has outgrown the concept of a
'centre'. What those whom Richard Burt rightly castigates have done, is
to jump on the bandwagon, tool up with what they perceive to be the
current 'professional' discourse, and ventriloquise concepts that they
leave behind in the office when they return home.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Jul 2002 15:01:14 -0400
Subject:        Re: ASIDE: Cultural Studies and the Battle for British Higher
Education

Although L. Swilley's observation may appear at first off-topic, it is
in fact a sentiment expressed frequently in the Early Modern period when
desperate scientific theories like Copernicanism and Cartesianism were
bringing the world to a Hell of confusion.  Similar sentiments were
voiced during the decline of the Roman Empire, the Athenian Academy, the
Babylonian captivity, etc. etc. "We" never actually had a "common
definition of humanity and human destiny." Puritans and recusants in the
sixteenth century, Native Americans and Europeans in the nineteenth
century and Israelis and Palestinians today differ profoundly in their
definitions of human destiny. The problem with a "center" is that, if
everyone were in it, it would not be a center, it would be the whole
place.  Centers must have margins. They only really work for those who
occupy them and who define human destiny as tethering everyone on or
beyond the margins closer to their happy isle where all collisions
cease.

In fact we have a greater degree of common center of humanity today than
at any time in history. Global capitalism since the fall of the Soviet
Union has united the whole face of the planet around the US dollar.
Every sale of every commodity from drinking water in Brazil to opium in
Afghanistan to bullets in Kosovo is connected through a vast complex of
property interrelationships to the Dow Jones Industrial Average snaking
up and down like the world serpent of the Sumerians to which anything
and everything from American Constitutional liberties to ecosystem
equilibrium to Iraqi peasants must be sacrificed. Its exigencies alone
will henceforth determine the course of advancement of human knowledge
by bestowing its divine grace solely on its chosen people whose
sacrifices are pleasing unto it. The pursuit of science and technology
that reaps patents that can be transformed into property and profit will
thrive, while the pursuit of humanistic studies that breed heresy and
blasphemy will be cast into the outer darkness.

Out here waiting,
Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenixandturtle.net

> >A cursory glance at any recent example of
> >cultural studies will show how incredibly canned and processed it has
> >become.  In my view, it tends at best to be ephemeral, vulgar
> >sociology....etc.
>
> I agree, and - although Dr. Burt might be horrified to learn why I do -
> isn't it because we have lost a common definition of humanity and of
> human destiny? Without that center from which there swings a free and
> endless tether into a vastness of sound meaning, we can only be
> "scientific," positing one desperate theory after another, those
> colliding with one another in a very Hell of confusion.

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