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Vincent Leitch

Related: cultural studies - culture theory

Theory Matters (2003) - Vincent B. Leitch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Vincent Leitch holds the Paul and Carol Daube Sutton Chair in English at the University of Oklahoma. He is the general editor of the Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory. His own books include Deconstructive Criticism (Columbia 1983), American Literary Criticism from the 1930s to the 1980s (Columbia, 1988), which was a Choice Outstanding Book, as well as two smaller books on theory from SUNY

In this new book on what theory means today, the general editor of the Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory explores how theory has altered the way the humanities do business. Theory got personal, went global, became popular, and in the process has changed everything we thought we knew about intellectual life. One of the most adroit and perceptive observers of the critical scene, Vincent Leitch offers these engaging snapshots to show how theory is at work. This is an utterly readable little book by one of our best historians on the theoretical turn that over the past thirty years has so powerfully changed the academy. --Book Description via Amazon.com

CCCS [...]

The most well-known academic program in cultural studies in Anglophone countries exists at the Centre (lately Department) for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), which was established at the University of Birmingham in England in 1964 under the directorship of Richard Hoggart. Initially part of the Department of English, the Centre became independent in 1972 during the directorship of Stuart Hall, whose term lasted from 1969 to 1979. Previously, Hall was the inaugural editor of Britain's New Left Review. It was during the 1970s that over 60 Stencilled Papers and 10 issues of the journal Working Papers in Cultural Studies (founded in 1971) were brought out. This journal was absorbed into a CCCS-Hutchinson Company book series that published in the closing years of the decade the collectively edited Resistance through Rituals: Youth Sub-Cultures in Post-War Britain (1976), On Ideology (1978), Women Take Issue (1978), Working Class Culture (1979), and especially Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79 (1980), which amounted to a CCCS reader, complete with an introductory account of the Centre by Stuart Hall. At the peak of this pioneering period in the 1970s, the Centre had 5 faculty members and 40 graduate students. By decade's end other university programs in cultural studies were set up in England, primarily at polytechnical institutes. With the founding in England of the Cultural Studies Association in 1984, the whole contemporary movement toward establishing cultural studies in the academy attained a significant moment of maturation. --Vincent B. Leitch (Published in Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, eds. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994]: 179-82.)


Vincent Leitch

(Published in Modern Fiction Studies, 42, Spring 1996: 111-28.)

Making Propositions

One of the most distinctive features of visual culture during postmodern times is the disaggregation and heteroglossia of dress codes and styles. The wide range and quality of fabrics, trims, colors, silhouettes, and particularly stylistic modes as well as the broad array of accessories spanning the spectrum from footwear and headdress to jewelry and hair style display an unprecedented openness and fragmentation in the history of post-Enlightenment Western clothing conventions. This is not to deny the existence of a fashion system complete with highly articulated rules and codes against which innovation, convention-breaking, revolt, reinflection, contradiction, and pluralization take place. Within the field of cultural studies these and related propositions are illustrated most memorably in Dick Hebdige's classic book, Subculture: The Meaning of Style, which, it will be recalled, charts the differing styles during the l960s and 70s of teddy boys, mods, skinheads, Rastas, and especially punks in relation to both the historical conjuncture of mainstream hegemonic culture and the contentious constellation of various male subcultural groups in England.1 In postmodern culture, youth styles often combine dress with argot, dance, and music, creating shocking ensembles set against the reigning symbolic order; style is a way of being and resisting. Innovation in fashion is less a matter of creativity ex nihilo than of mutation and pastiche. Punk fashion, with its torn tee shirts, orange hair, safety pin piercings, necklaces of toilet chains, plastic pants with multiple exposed zippers, and mask-like makeup, effectively demonstrates not only the simultaneous systematicity and disorganization of late twentieth-century dress codes, but the spectacularized heteroglot visual culture characteristic of postmodern social regimes --http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Vincent.B.Leitch-1/article3.html [May 2006]

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