"Culture" and the Problem of the Disciplines
What is the university's role in the production of cultural ideals? With increasingly interdisciplinary approaches being employed in scholarship, can we speak of discrete fields of study?
The results of a collaborative research project by the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California, Irvine, this collection explores the role that scholars and universities play in shaping and defining culture, and how teaching and research institutions are changing in response to international movements and social forces. Investigating the way "high" culture (literature, liberal education) and popular culture (fashion, film) are dealt with in the classroom, these essays show that the "culture wars" of the 1980s and '90s are by no means over; they have simply warped into new, less visible struggles for control of educational funding, curricula, academic "standards," and pedagogical authority.
The essays in this volume range widely. Sacvan Bercovitch defends the literary ideal of culture through his examination of Faulkner's Light in August; Linda Williams explores visual culture through Hitchcock's Psycho; and Leslie Rabine considers the intersections of fashion, race, and gender. J. Hillis Miller details how "cultural studies" might positively change the structure of the university, and Mark Poster challenges historians to develop methods of representing history that are adequate to the complexity of lived experience.