What does Cultural Studies mean to you?
In our winter edition Newsletter we asked our students to enter a competition to submit a blog response to the following question, 'What does Cultural Studies mean to you?' Zachary Gray who is a student on the BA (Hons) History course is the winner, here is his response.
The practice of cultural studies has been informative during my time at Leeds Beckett, and I have been consistently proud of its principles and ideas. Despite it's usually in the departments of Social Sciences at universities across the country, the importance of cultural studies is often taken for granted.
Cultural studies has a strong British tradition, emerging in the mid-twentieth century as a revolutionary but often controversial field of study. Early works such as Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy were pioneering for their recognition of the social and cultural significance of the working classes, where they had been overlooked before.
One of the defining aspects of cultural studies is its interdisciplinary nature. Pioneers of cultural studies recognised and embraced the frequent intersection of ideas, methods and research between disciplines. By tearing down these disciplinary boundaries, cultural studies re-imagined the potential for academic studies. This philosophy of interaction and co-operation between the various disciplines in cultural studies and humanities is in evidence at Leeds Beckett. Events run by the school, most recently for Black History Month, are as organizationally interdisciplinary as they are in content. Similarly, in everyday study students are encouraged to look outside of their course to bring depth to their research.
The legacy of the field’s Marxist roots are evident in its focus on people, power, and the inequalities between the two, which has had a powerful effect in re-framing how we understand society past and present. I strongly believe that this has been instrumental in creating socially-aware graduates conscious of ever-present inequalities, an essential educational step towards institutional change.
Because of this, cultural studies to me stands for equality and integrity, and a persistent attempt to expose where these are undermined in society.