Cultural Studies' Affective Voices by M. Gregg

By M. Gregg

In a chain of encounters with key figures within the box of cultural stories, this ebook attracts recognition to the importance of voice and handle in enacting a political venture from in the academy. Combining a spotlight on theories of "affect" in recent times dominant within the humanities with a background of cultural reports as a self-discipline, it highlights the varied modes of functionality that accompany and help scholarly perform. Writing from the point of view of a brand new iteration of cultural reviews practitioners, Melissa Gregg offers a lacking hyperlink among the field's earliest political issues with these of the current. all through, she emphasizes the continuing value of engaged, public intellectualism.

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The book takes risks in its aim to establish new methods of epistemological insight. The first chapter of The Uses of Literacy argues that the tradition of scholarly analysis pertaining to working-class life was in the 1950s a pale and bloodless reflection of its subject. Available paradigms for representation 34 Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices offered no scale to register the affect, the feeling or the histories of belief behind the class-distinctive practices recorded by other disciplines: historical accounts accorded too much emphasis on purely ‘political’ manifestations of working-class cultural investments and achievements, while sociological studies quantified cultural dispositions and preferences with little feel for the ‘grass-roots’ of working-class culture (1958: 16).

Rather than spurring the reader to act, the empathetic identification encourages a ‘passive’ posture. Megan Boler also distinguishes between the ‘passive empathy’ some reading practices make likely and the kind of self-reflexive sensibility that might actually seek to change the power relations involved in representations of others. For both Boler and Berlant, the focus is on the reader’s 30 Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices response: how ‘the politics of personal feeling cannot address the institutional (or what Berlant calls the structural) reasons for injustice’ (Woodward, 2004: 71).

14 The British New Left were interested in the reasons why working-class voters preferred conservative governments. The writers’ fascination with the conceptual and Communicating Investment 23 political consequences of greater social wealth – which they encapsulated in the term embourgeoisment – was a fear of the unknown: What parameters would influence political expression outside values of class? Would a classless society spell the end of any political movement led by the workers? With the end of the Cold War, and the beginning of the more recent ‘War on Terror’, the techniques for gauging a Leftist position have blurred even further.

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