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Stuart Hall and the Rise of Cultural Studies | The New Yorker
"Culture, he argued, does not consist of what the educated élites happen to fancy, such as classical music or the fine arts. It is, simply, “experience lived, experience interpreted, experience defined.” And it can tell us things about the world, he believed, that more traditional studies of politics or economics alone could not."



"Broadly speaking, cultural studies is not one arm of the humanities so much as an attempt to use all of those arms at once. It emerged in England, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, when scholars from working-class backgrounds, such as Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, began thinking about the distance between canonical cultural touchstones—the music or books that were supposed to teach you how to be civil and well-mannered—and their own upbringings. These scholars believed that the rise of mass communications and popular forms were permanently changing our relationship to power and authority, and to one another. There was no longer consensus. Hall was interested in the experience of being alive during such disruptive times. What is culture, he proposed, but an attempt to grasp at these changes, to wrap one’s head around what is newly possible?

Hall retained faith that culture was a site of “negotiation,” as he put it, a space of give and take where intended meanings could be short-circuited. “Popular culture is one of the sites where this struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged: it is also the stake to be won or lost in that struggle,” he argues. “It is the arena of consent and resistance.” In a free society, culture does not answer to central, governmental dictates, but it nonetheless embodies an unconscious sense of the values we share, of what it means to be right or wrong. Over his career, Hall became fascinated with theories of “reception”—how we decode the different messages that culture is telling us, how culture helps us choose our own identities. He wasn’t merely interested in interpreting new forms, such as film or television, using the tools that scholars had previously brought to bear on literature. He was interested in understanding the various political, economic, or social forces that converged in these media. It wasn’t merely the content or the language of the nightly news, or middlebrow magazines, that told us what to think; it was also how they were structured, packaged, and distributed.

According to Slack and Lawrence Grossberg, the editors of “Cultural Studies 1983,” Hall was reluctant to publish these lectures because he feared they would be read as an all-purpose critical toolkit rather than a series of carefully situated historical conversations. Hall himself was ambivalent about what he perceived to be the American fetish for theory, a belief that intellectual work was merely, in Slack and Grossberg’s words, a “search for the right theory which, once found, would unlock the secrets of any social reality.” It wasn’t this simple. (I have found myself wondering what Hall would make of how cultural criticism of a sort that can read like ideological pattern-recognition has proliferated in the age of social media.)

Over the course of his lectures, Hall carefully wrestles with forebears, including the British scholar F. R. Leavis and also Williams and Hoggart (the latter founded Birmingham University’s influential Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies, which Hall directed in the seventies). Gradually, the lectures cluster around questions of how we give our lives meaning, how we recognize and understand “the culture we never see, the culture we don’t think of as cultivated.” These lectures aren’t instructions for “doing” cultural studies—until the very end, they barely touch on emerging cultural forms that intrigued Hall, such as reggae and punk rock. Instead, they try to show how far back these questions reach."



"Hall found ready disciples in American universities, though it might be argued that the spirit which animated cultural studies in England had existed in the U.S. since the fifties and sixties, in underground magazines and the alternative press. The American fantasy of its supposedly “classless” society has always given “culture” a slightly different meaning than it has in England, where social trajectories were more rigidly defined. What scholars like Hall were actually reckoning with was the “American phase” of British life. After the Second World War, England was no longer the “paradigm case” of Western industrial society. America, that grand experiment, where mass media and consumer culture proliferated freely, became the harbinger for what was to come. In a land where rags-to-riches mobility is—or so we tend to imagine—just one hit away, culture is about what you want to project into the world, whether you are fronting as a member of the élite or as an everyman, offering your interpretation of Shakespeare or of “The Matrix.” When culture is about self-fashioning, there’s even space to be a down-to-earth billionaire."
2017  stuarthall  culture  culturalstudies  huahsu  arts  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  popularculture  richardhoggart  raymondwilliams  humanities  resistance  consent  jenniferdarylslack  lawrencegrossberg  frleavis  society  canon  marxism 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Civility Wars - The New Yorker
"The language of civility has always been a code of sorts, a way of holding life’s quotidian messiness up against lofty, sometimes elitist ideals of proper behavior. Perhaps, in the most practical sense, we might agree that some basic understanding of civility is what compels us to hold doors open for strangers or to avoid cussing out the elderly. Over the past decade, however, civility has come to assume a more prescriptive dimension. At a time when our ideological divides feel wild and extreme, civility has become our polite-sounding call to fall back in line. Nowhere has this charge been sounded more forcefully than on college campuses."



"At its worst, concern for civility is a way to avoid having difficult conversations at all. Today, the greatest structural driver of the civility wars is the Internet, where these two versions of the word collide. In the comparatively decentralized space, we have become compelled to take everyone’s grievances seriously, even when those claims for civility and courteous debate have been made in bad faith. And, as the common ground between us seems to dwindle, it has become easier to fixate on incivility than to reckon with whatever ideas rude language might describe. Interestingly, the new civility troubles those across the political spectrum. For those on the right, civility is political correctness by a different name, while those on the left tend to see it as a way of silencing dissent. What unites these interpretations is a shared suspicion that the rules of civility exist to preserve our hierarchies.

Thanks to the Internet, we have become expert parsers of language, meaning, and authorial intent. We have grown obsessed with subtext. In other words, we live in very discursive times, when language seems to matter more than ever. Perhaps the return of civility, as those on the right and left have both argued, constitutes a renewal of the culture wars, where taste became an object of national debate. But it also seems like a natural result of the sheer amount of time we spend engaged in the textual worlds of the Internet. There is more to say and share than ever before. As we dive headlong into this world made of words, the temptation will always be to shout above the din."



"Over the past five years, the public relations firm Weber Shandwick has published “Civility in America,” an annual report indexing American attitudes on politics, the Internet, and our collective spiritual health. With each passing year, the surveys show, our incivility problem worsens. The evidence is everywhere: road rage, professional basketball players caught cussing on camera, cable news pundits, personal friendships disintegrating over a Facebook post on Obamacare.

These results should be unsurprising: there was a greatest generation but not a politest, a Gilded Age but no Era of Total Kindness. The problem with civility is the presumption that we were ever civil in the first place. This is why calls for genteel discourse from on high always feel like deeply nostalgic fantasies offered in bad faith. There should be nothing controversial about everyday kindness; civility as a kind of individual moral compass should remain a virtue. But civility as a type of discourse—as a high road that nobody ever actually walks—is the opposite. It is bullshit."
civility  behavior  power  hierarchy  statusquo  suppression  huahsu  stevensalaita  discourse  conversation  disagreement  highered  highereducation  opinions  2014 
december 2014 by robertogreco
PERFECT SOUND FOREVER: Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, interviewed by Hua Hsu (Arthur No. 7/Nov. 2003)
just remembered this interview I did w/ kevin shields in 03 about MBV, hypnagogia, Queens bit.ly/dFShsY
aa  music  mbv  interview  huahsu  sleep 
july 2012 by ek1.618
Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, and the rise of skating and the X Games - Grantland
All great sporting rivalries are really conversations about style, philosophy, what it means to live the good life. Among skateboarders in the 1980s, there were but two choices. For those who appreciated craft and technique, there was Tony Hawk — diligent, inventive, a gangly mess of limbs and kneepads capable of retracting into a perfect, spinning sphere. Hawk was the one who sought a virtuosic, straight-A's kind of perfection, an uptight kid who seemed too busy collecting trophies and devising new tricks to truly dream. Christian Hosoi was the natural, the very definition of style, the one who seemed to be carving full sentences into the cement with his perfect runs. He was the one with the swagger to pull off women's jeans, hair extensions, and the blasphemous nickname "Christ." Tricks are for kids. Hosoi was trying to see the sun.
sports  profile  huahsu  asam 
june 2012 by ek1.618
The melancholy greatness of "All My Friends." - Slate Magazine
Ecstasy is a hell of a drug. Like many pill-shaped thrills, it reminds one that he or she is alive by slowing down the unforgiving march of time into a jumble of eternally pleasurable moments. The effect: a vision of the world that is ultimately unsustainable. It is important to keep this in mind when listening to "All My Friends," the brilliant and deeply nostalgic new single from LCD Soundsystem. While the song bears all the traits of a ubiquitous dance-club hit, this only half-explains its massive popularity. At heart, "All My Friends" is a poignant piece of songwriting designed to resonate with those in the upper limits of the 18-to-34-year-old demographic. It's a song written by a middle-ager that looks back upon the kinds of simple momentary glories it's likely soundtracking this summer: hanging out, joking around, escaping into flings, and dancing on drugs...
... But eventually the moment evaporates (as it must), and life settles into a dreaded plainness. One day you arise from bed, contemplate your job, apartment, and the person next to you, and wonder where the time has gone. Friends are off somewhere else—it is always somewhere more fun—and you think about how great it would be to see them all at once. The lyrics are delivered in a Didion-like calm: We dance and do drugs, in lieu of falling apart.
music  lcdsoundsystem  huahsu  life  good 
june 2012 by ek1.618

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