Early Cultural Studies Texts Worth Reading [suggestions encouraged]

Deciding to return to earlier cultural studies texts, I’ve gotten through Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy: aspects of working-class life, with special references to publications and entertainments (1957) which I do recommend, surely a classic that stands the test of time.

[An aside: also of note for popular music fans is the reference to a book ‘Death-Cab for Cutie’ — seemingly a made-up name included amongst many others in Hoggart’s discussion of the ‘sex and violence’ genre of popular reads at the time that was chosen by B. Gibbard and his recent band — I heard the band but never knew the origin, of course the internet easily confirms the connection).

Also almost done with Raymond Williams’s Culture and Society (1780-1950) (1958) which can be rather dry in comparison to Hoggart’s work (above), but I’d say a stand out section is the one devoted to T. S. Eliot and his notion of ‘culture’ as a whole way of life, which clearly signals the later evolution of Williams’s thoughts on the subject, and suggests an appropriation and reformulation (differing considerably from the original, of course) of Eliot’s concept (itself digested from Boasian Anthropology) in the ‘structures of feeling’ Williams wrote about. Not done with that one yet, but already I feel I’m going to have to read Eliot’s slim book Notes Towards a Definition of Culture (from 1948) that Williams references there.

I do have to move on to consider Scrutiny (F.R. Leavis’s project from 1932 onward), which Williams points to as anticipating cultural studies as well.

Any other suggestions of earlier cultural studies texts worth reconsidering?

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2 thoughts on “Early Cultural Studies Texts Worth Reading [suggestions encouraged]

  1. I am a big fan of Williams’ _Culture and Society_! Have you read Adorno and Horkheimer’s essay “The Culture Industry:Enlightenment as Mass Deception”? Definitely a must-read in Cultural Studies. There’s also Adorno’s essay collection _The Culture Industry_.

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