Kulturwissenschaften / Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies is the study, analysis and interpretation of a variety of cultural representations. These can be material but also non-material. Because culture is seen as manifesting itself in “cultural practices” (conventions, rituals, events, individual behaviour), it is something that is “done”. As one of the pioneers of Cultural Studies, Raymond Williams, said, “culture is everything”, it is “a way of life”. Thus, Cultural Studies is often concerned with ordinary human behaviour in daily life and with popular culture. The overall objective of the academic discipline of Cultural Studies could be described as finding out what the meaning of cultural practices tells us about social values and power structures in a given society.

 

As a student and as a teacher of English, you need to have a firm grasp of culture—not just the “facts” of English-speaking societies, but also of the problems and questions that arise when we speak of things such as “national identity”—“the British”, “the English”, “the Scottish”, “the Welsh”, “the Irish”, “the Americans”, etc., or when we make generalizations, describe cultural differences or study cultural texts.

 

In your Cultural Studies courses you will learn about the culture, society and history of Britain, the Unites States and other English-speaking parts of the world. More important, you will be introduced to theories and methods involved in the study of culture. You will get acquainted with cultural concepts such as class, gender, and ethnicity, and, for example, the role these have played in the development of British and American identities. Overall, you will improve your ability to analyse and discuss cultural products like films, photographs, television shows, fashion, music, demonstrations, advertisements, football matches, women’s and men’s magazines and newspaper articles, to name but a few.

For BA students, the Cultural Studies module (module 5) is divided into three classes. It is compulsory to first attend the “Introduction to Cultural Studies” and then one 5.2 and one 5.3 class. Once you have completed all three classes, you will be required to take an oral exam of fifteen minutes.

MA students will have to take the classes 11.3 and 12.3, which are part of modules 11 and 12, respectively.

The following books are recommended for your studies. Additionally, you are strongly encouraged to keep up with current developments in the English-speaking world. A practical way of doing this is online, for example at:

 

 

www.nytimes.com

www.guardian.co.uk

www.cbc.ca

www.popmatters.com

to name only a few.