Theories in Cultural Studies (CSAP)

Since Cultural Studies (CS) emerges from various critical
traditions and has taken varied directions, the course aims to provide a
mapping of these approaches and problematics that foregrounds their
historicity, location, and transformations. This mapping of theories, which is
of necessity introductory, is designed to “orient” us to CS from our location
in Hawai‘i nei and our responsibilities here as students, teachers, writers,
and critics. Thus, the course has three objectives: to read foundational texts
marking what, within English studies, makes CS distinctive in scope,
methodology, history, goals, and practices; to consider the relevance, impact,
limitations, and possibilities of CS for us studying and doing cultural work in
Hawai‘i; and to provide you with questions, vocabulary, methods, and practice that
nurture your skills and confidence as critical participants in/consumers and
makers of various cultures.

As part of our reading practice, we will discuss and
historicize key critical concepts (from representation, ideology, capital, and gendering
to heteronormativity, performativity, orientalism & pacificism, globalization,
and more) and learn from different approaches—specifically marxism in the
plural, semiotics, and gender and queer studies, as they intersect with
indigenous studies, media studies, and globalization studies. We will do so
with a keen eye to decoding assumptions (e.g., about what counts as culture or
archive) and to engaging responsibly and anti-hegemonically in social discourse
and action.

The course will include an
orientation to the Hawaiian and Pacific collections in Hamilton Library and at
least one field trip to an archive.

For this semester, “archives” is the common theme for the
ENG 625 classes, and it will be a focus as we familiarize ourselves with
different CS approaches and issues in ENG 625E and also as we research archives
of different kinds (photography, television including the Juniora archive,
music, folk and fairy tales, storied places, newspapers, magazines including Paradise of the Pacific, performances,
“traditional” cultural practices).

Texts: Stuart Hall’s Representation: Cultural
Representations and Signifying Practices
(2nd edition); Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua’s Value of Hawai‘i 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic
; chapters from Asian Settler Colonialism, Cultural Critique and the
Global Corporation
, Mai Pa‘a I Ka Leo: Historical Voices in
Hawaiian Primary Materials
, and We Are the Ocean; Emma Nakuina’s Hawaii: Its
People, Their Legends
; and
ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui’s Voices of Fire.

Selections in pdf form by Marx, Gramsci, Althusser, Horkheimer and Adorno,
Fanon, Williams, Hall, Said, Butler, Spivak, Žižek, Munoz, Mignolo,
Naithani, Trask, Silva, Arista, Kuwada, Wolfe, Agamben, a special issue of Anglistica on sustaining Hawaiian sovereignty,
and more.

Films include The Land Has Eyes(dir.
Vilsoni Hereniko), Even the Rain (dir. Iclar Bollain), Sinalela
(dir. Dan Taulapapa McMullin), Scheherazade,
Tell Me a Story
(dir. Yousry Nasrallah), Little Red Riding Hood (dir. David Kaplan); and documentaries directed
by Esther Figueroa (Jamaica for Sale and Reflections of Lāna‘i) and Sut Jhally.

Assignments: informal
assignments include sharing a response to two CS campus events, leading
discussion about a specific archive, and in-class activities; formal
assignments consist of a 15-minute presentation of a keyword in CS, focused on
its critical provenance(s), changing definitions, uses, and productivity; a
collaborative presentation on archives in/and CS; a one-page proposal of the
final project; and a final essay that offers a sustained reading of a cultural
text or practice, making use of CS concepts and reflecting on their

The presentations, in
particular, are aimed to engage students in research and to provide experience
with two different oral practices in our profession: deploying critical
vocabulary precisely to frame and support detailed analysis; and delivering a
timed, informed, focused, and thought-provoking presentation.