The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1644  Tuesday, 16 July 2002

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 Jul 2002 12:39:00 -0400
Subject:        Re: ASIDE: Cultural Studies and the Battle for British Higher

One can only lament the effects (end of tenure, closures of departments)
of market 'rationalization" on higher ed, particularly the humanities,
in the UK, and in the U.S.

But when Gilroy says "As for cultural studies, far from being a symbol
of the exhaustion of a project that has run its course, the termination
of the Birmingham department might be reinterpreted as another measure
of the impact of cultural studies as a project" he is surely wrong.  As
Bill Readings showed incisively in The University in Ruins (1996),
cultural studies IS exhausted. 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.  Frederic Jameson's inspiring work is the exception that
proves the rule. For Gilroy to say that "cultural studies, for good or
ill, is everywhere" is really to beg the question as to whether its
global presence is for good or ill.  Just because it is everywhere does
not mean that it should be everywhere.  (Gilroy would no doubt fault the
logic of arguing that Hollywood film production is justified--and beyond
criticism--by its global presence.) Of course the larger problem we
humanities academics face is that nearly all criticism now seems
predictable and canned, politically radical or traditional, as a look at
the program for the 2003 SAA conference sadly shows.  (What is more
conformist in an academic context than to say that one's own work and
the work one studies is "oppositional," "subversive," or has "radical
potential"?   I think the problem of intellectual narrowness is
particularly true of poco crit, where the ONLY question critics seem
capable of asking is how complicit or oppositional a text / a given
critic / a given theory is.  See Graham Huggans' The Post-Colonial
Exotic for an all too typical example.  American critics have been
asking since 1989 "What 

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