Cultural Studies - Academic Reception

Academic Reception

Cultural Studies is not a unified theory, but a diverse field of study encompassing many different approaches, methods and academic perspectives. As in any academic discipline, Cultural Studies academics frequently debate among themselves. However, some academics from other fields have criticised the discipline as a whole. It has been popular to dismiss Cultural Studies as an academic fad. Yale literature professor Harold Bloom has been an outspoken critic of the Cultural Studies model of literary studies. Critics such as Bloom see cultural studies as it applies to literary scholarship as a vehicle of careerism by academics, instead of promoting essentialist theories of culture, mobilising arguments that scholars should promote the public interest by studying what makes beautiful literary works beautiful.

The most often heard criticism of Hall’s work is that he doesn’t offer any specific solutions to the problems he identifies. Even though this holds true, Hall has worked hard to expose racism that’s reinforced by press reporting.

Bloom stated his position during the September of 2000 episode of C-SPAN's Booknotes:

here are two enemies of reading now in the world, not just in the English-speaking world. One the lunatic destruction of literary studies...and its replacement by what is called cultural studies in all of the universities and colleges in the English-speaking world, and everyone knows what that phenomenon is. I mean, phrase 'political correctness' remains a perfectly good descriptive phrase for what has gone on and is, alas, still going on almost everywhere and which dominates, I would say, rather more than three-fifths of the tenured faculties in the English-speaking world, who really do represent a treason of the intellectuals, I think, a 'betrayal of the clerks'."

Literary critic Terry Eagleton is not wholly opposed to Cultural Studies theory like Bloom, but has criticised certain aspects of it, highlighting what he sees as its strengths and weaknesses in books such as After Theory (2003). For Eagleton, literary and cultural theory have the potential to say important things about the "fundamental questions" in life, but theorists have rarely realized this potential.

Whereas, sociology was founded upon various historic works, which purposefully set out to distinguish the subject as distinct from philosophy or psychology. Cultural Studies lacks any fundamental literature explicitly founding a new discipline. A relevant criticism comes from Pierre Bourdieu, who working in the sociological tradition, wrote on similar topics such as photography, art museums and modern literature. Bourdieu's point is that Cultural Studies lacks scientific method. His own work makes innovative use of statistics and in-depth interviews. Cultural Studies is relatively unstructured as an academic field. It is difficult to hold researchers accountable for their claims, because there is no agreement on the methods and validity.

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