Teaching Cultural Studies in the Undergraduate Curriculum: From the Abstract to the Concrete, and Back Again
Now that almost half a century has passed since the first moment of the academic institutionalization of the field of cultural studies in the Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964, cultural studies is a more established, even “global,” intellectual phenomenon and practice in the academy. But while it is increasingly common to encounter cultural studies at the graduate level, the status and place of cultural studies at the undergraduate level remains, with few exceptions, largely uncertain. One notable exception is the relatively successful undergraduate program in cultural studies where the present author teaches. This chapter is a chronicle and contexualization of the curriculum of that program. The author discusses the challenges and merits of teaching cultural studies and critical theory in the context of a largely media and arts school in Chicago in an age of economic uncertainty and ballooning student debt. The aim is to generate and stimulate a productive conversation about the institutional, theoretical, and pedagogical challenges and rewards of such a project: cultural studies in the undergraduate curriculum.
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