Cultural Studies and (Un)Critical Pedagogies: A Journey Through the Corporatized University

  • Lisa B. Y. Calvente
  • Mark Hayward
  • Josh Smicker
  • Sindhu Zagoren


Derived from the body of critical literature on the academy and from experiences of everyday academic life, this chapter analyzes how neoliberal strategies have transformed and depoliticized higher education largely through the appropriation of difference and the proliferation of discourses of a disciplinary professionalism. We highlight how Cultural Studies, in particular, has become a target of these strategies and argues that, within the past two decades, the signifiers of Cultural Studies have often been disarticulated from issues of critical praxis, solidarity, and political change. As a result, the conceptual and thematic language of Cultural Studies is increasingly used to attract students to ‘fun’ classes on popular culture that are primarily meant to boost flagging enrollment numbers and increase revenue; it superficially pleases and insidiously exploits the student-consumer simultaneously. From this perspective, we pose the question: how can Cultural Studies work be done in an actively hostile environment? As provisional answers, we highlight strategies and modes of working that offer potential avenues for the continuation of critical pedagogies and research practice. This entails a recognition of the incorporation of collaboration into critical analysis and reconsideration of the relationship between ‘the popular’ and popular culture as they inform and transform pedagogy. In this essay, we aim to demonstrate that it is only by using methods and modes of engagement that draw upon the tradition of intellectual work and solidarity found in Cultural Studies that a space for critical analysis can be maintained and expanded.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa B. Y. Calvente
    • 1
  • Mark Hayward
    • 2
  • Josh Smicker
    • 3
  • Sindhu Zagoren
    • 4
  1. 1.DePaul UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Catawba CollegeSalisburyUSA
  4. 4.Community College of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA

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