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Public Pedagogy and Private Programs: Practicing Cultural Studies in Professional Education

  • R. Gabriel DorEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Although critical pedagogy and adult education were foundational influences in the development of cultural studies as an academic discipline, its incorporation into neoliberal university departments has frequently meant re-inscription in the very academy it sought to challenge. Reviewing existing literature on the needs and constraints of public pedagogy, adult education, and cultural studies in the neoliberal university, I draw on my teaching experiences to demonstrate the critical potential of cultural studies in media programs for returning adult undergraduates. Media majors at the Northwestern School of Professional Studies are required to take the introductory course, “Understanding Media Contexts,” on contexts of production and reception, situating media texts within larger social, economic, and political systems and structures, which shape their functions, meanings, and values. Readings comprise key essays in film and television research, with an emphasis on critical theory and cultural studies. Students engage a challenging survey of Frankfurt School materialism, Birmingham School cultural studies, Anglo-American empiricism and effects research, and methods of study in industry, audiences, gender, sexuality, race, and globalization. The class generally includes students of diverse ages and backgrounds, and they are encouraged to explore relevant issues of personal identity and intellectual interest further in discussion, research, and writing. I believe that adult populations provide far more possibility than challenge. The challenge is institutional, and in fact adult learners are more willing to find value in the curriculum and pedagogy than the neoliberal university and its departmental apparatus. To me the space of adult learners, the incubator of Stuart Hall’s practice, is endangered by the institutional changes in budgets, contracts, departments, distribution, digitization, branding, and labor. At the same time, it is this very space of adult education which provides the pedagogical opportunity to humanize and engage against a backdrop of corporatization in higher education. Adult pedagogy is live guidance and facilitation, and online tools connect beyond the classroom in ways which can personalize and extend the limits of scheduling at the same time that technology in or as the classroom can get in the way of being human against the disciplinary apparatus of cultural reproduction.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ScholarChicagoUSA

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