The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0838 Thursday, 1 May 2003
Date: Wednesday, 30 Apr 2003 13:23:12 -0400
Subject: New Energy Needed For Cultural Studies
From the issue of Chronicle of Higher Ed dated May 2, 2003
Expanding the Agenda of Cultural Research
By PETER N. STEARNS
For the past several decades, key disciplines in or around the
humanities, including my own field of history, have been strongly
influenced by what has been termed "the cultural turn" -- the belief
that culture influences, indeed powerfully shapes, the human condition.
In this pervasive view, key aspects of life can best be understood by
exploring the fundamental beliefs and assumptions of a culture and (in
some formulations especially) the language in which they are expressed.
Some of the attention to the cultural turn began in the 1960s, with the
period's new sympathy for the styles and values of various groups, and
then firmed up with a growing interest in the findings of cultural
anthropology and in various theoretical formulations from gurus like
Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida.
Recently, however, the fascination with culture seems to be waning:
Historians, for example, are conducting symposiums and editing volumes
about "what comes next," and erstwhile culturalists are publicly
bemoaning the decline of interest in relevant theory. Aside from
demonstrating that humanists are not immune to faddism, the transition
invites some comment about the state of cultural research more
generally. For, while a rebalancing of scholarly priorities seems
inevitable, it is important to keep oscillations within bounds.
For the full article, click on the link above.
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