Tackling History in the Cultural Studies Seminar

Becca Cragin
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio, USA
bcragin@bgsu.edu

Abstract

While cultural theory developed in past eras was often marred by the biases of its privileged authors, we are still often required to teach the canon, so that graduate students can recognize past intellectual trends to which current critiques of the canon respond. In this article, a “History of Feminist Theory” course is employed as an example of larger principles of foundations course design that can be used in any cultural studies seminar to productively address the tension between old and new schools of thought. It provides suggestions for structuring syllabi and discussions in ways that productively engage with earlier texts, yet without reinforcing their canonicity. The author suggests that viewing “classics” through a comparative and predominantly historical lens can allow teachers to address current cultural issues such as the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements via the use of older texts, constructively balancing the need to identify their oversights with the need to learn the history of a particular field. Students usually wish to analyze the popular culture of the present, sometimes resenting being obliged to take historical/foundational courses. However, these are courses we are often required to teach. The tension between obligations and interests can either derail a grad seminar or be harnessed constructively to help students critique the cultural studies canon more effectively.

Keywords:  History, Foundations, Theory, Pedagogy, Canon, Classics

Author Bio

Becca Cragin is an Associate Professor of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She received her Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from Emory University in 2002 and her B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College in 1992. Her research and teaching interests include gender and sexuality in television and film, in comedy and crime genres.

Suggested Citation

APA

Cragin, Becca. “Tackling History in the Cultural Studies Seminar.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v9-issue-4/tackling-history-in-the-cultural-studies-seminar/

MLA

Cragin, B. (2022). Tackling History in the Cultural Studies Seminar. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v9-issue-4/tackling-history-in-the-cultural-studies-seminar/

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