Cultural Studies and Composition

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Due to an increase in mass communication, information, and the availability to access information, Cultural Studies has never been more relevant in the composition field.

What is CULTURAL Studies?

The studies of culture, contemporary history, and conflicts—an everchanging realm of study. It began in the 1950’s-60’s (still being determined) in the U.K.  with major new left thinkers: Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, & E.P. Thompson. These men drew from Althusser and Gramsci’s ideas, which emphasized the removal of the power dynamic between high/low culture binaries, or dominant culture and subculture. They investigated how cultures create social order and class consciousness.

  • Cultural studies also draws from Marxism, Feminist theory, ethnograhy, and poststructuralism.

Cultural Studies in composition takes the focus off of the individual writer and places it on the individual within the social, political, and cultural context of the world in which they live. It seeks to understand how meaning is created and used within a culture.

FOR: In composition pedagogy, cultural studies are important because the use of pop culture makes student writing relevant and even exciting. The analysis of social issues helps them think critically and can lead students to civic and public writing. Cultural studies in composition empowers the disenfranchised voices of the “other,” and can take the form of digital writing (tweets, facebook, blogs), newspapers, journals—anything that aids in the analysis of a culture.

AGAINST: Those against cultural studies in writing claim that a focus on cultural studies leads to a devaluing of writing itself, and many see it as an attempt of “radical leftist” professors to indoctrinate students.

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