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Introduction to Cultural and Historical Studies

Spring 2013
Unit leader: Serkan Delice

Introduction: What is Cultural Studies and why are we studying it? Conceptualising culture. Taking popular culture seriously. Fashion and culture: identity; structure and agency.

Keywords: Culture, cultural context

Conceptualising Culture

Culture with a capital `C`: “the best that has been thought and said in the world” – Matthew Arnold

Raymond Williams`s definition of culture: “Culture is ordinary”; “social definition of culture”: culture is a “whole way of life” (in contrast to Arnold’s aesthetic and elitist conception of Culture)

“The analysis of culture” requires “the clarification of the meanings and values implicit and explicit in a particular life, a particular culture” – Raymond Williams

Cultural Studies approach helped to legitimize:

a) the study of working class culture: active everyday creation / construction of culture; capacity of people to construct shared meaningful practices b) the study of popular culture: television, newspapers, fashion, music, dancing, football, and other everyday practices

Popular Culture and Fashion

• Cultural Studies suggests a positive conception of popular culture: we, as audiences, make our own meanings with the texts of popular culture; we, as consumers, make our own meanings with our clothes. • Cultural Studies rejects elitist notions of high & low or good & bad culture. Popular culture is creative, and as such it is a legitimate object of study. • The popular is political.

Cultural Studies Approaches to Fashion

Social Class
Politics of Identity
Consumption and Consumer society
Structure v Agency


How does culture shape who we are?
How do we shape culture? How do we express our own identity through different forms of consumption?

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