The Impossibility of Teaching Cultural Studies

  • Gilbert B. RodmanEmail author


As my title suggests, this essay argues that it is not possible to teach people how to do cultural studies. There are three major obstacles that matter here. The first is cultural studies’ status as a political project (rather than just an intellectual one) and the concurrent difficulties inherent in trying to teach students how to be politically engaged. The second involves the institutional pressures toward professionalization that currently dominate universities (at least in the US) and the impact those pressures have on graduate curricula and mentoring. The third involves a more general (albeit often unacknowledged) problem of teaching anyone anything: that is, the fact that most institutional forms of pedagogy are characterized by a kind of failure since most of our students are unlikely to take up whatever projects and dreams we may be trying to put into our teaching.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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