Friday, February 13, 2009

Sun Ho's Questions - Week 5

Q1. Stuart Hall - Throughout the essay Hall uses terms, theoretical gains, advances, progressions, etc. Here’s an example: “..the gains which were made through an engagement with them are crucially important in understanding how theory came to be advanced in that work” (pg 105). But what does he exactly mean by theoretical gains, advances or progressions? How does one recognize what he described as “a never self-sufficient moment”? Any ideas?

Q2. Hall’s discussion about AIDS as an example and indicator of “our marginality as critical intellectuals in making real effects in the world” reminds me of our discussion from last week. How does our theorizing about political matters make any difference to anyone? Does it make any difference especially to those who are suffering from it? We’re given that luxury to relate these matters with theory, but think about how little that could change anything. He probably wanted to emphasize that there are such things cultural studies can address and that those tensions help us further understand what cultural studies can actually do, but this seems to be something I’ll be thinking about for a while.

Q3. Hardt’s essay provides thorough overview of how the British cultural studies group had a significant contribution to the American mass communication research. Here’s the author’s concluding sentence: “The dilemma of American mass communication studies continues to lie in the failure to comprehend and overcome the limitations of its own intellectual history… by failing to address the problems of an established academic discipline with its specific theoretical and methodological requirements...” (page 111). Todd Gitlin expressed a similar concern specifically on how these requirements have “put the methodological cart ahead of the theoretical horse.” But this made me wonder, we all have – or will have – intellectual, ideological or institutional commitments that shape our own work as scholars. Sounds more like a proseminar question, but how do we find a balance here?

Q4. Kellner’s suggestion that cultural studies should be critical, multicultural, and multiperspectival sounds ideal. At the same time, however, it seems to create a conflict with his statements about “romanticizing the active audience”(pg 9) and “losing sight of the manipulative and conservative effects of certain types of media culture” (pg 10). How can this be done in an ideal way that doesn’t overemphasize any of those three components of critical cultural studies?

Q5. Burgess piece tries to give a meaning to 'ordinary' cultural participation by focusing on its democratic potential. I understand that it has some implications from a participatory cultural studies approach, but does it really mean much considering the nature of its content?

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