Cultural Studies is a relatively young academic discipline. Its origins can be traced back to the 1960s when an urgent need made itself felt in Britain to broaden the scope of traditional literary studies. Three additional elements were regarded as particularly relevant: the connection between culture and society, contemporary culture in all its facets, and popular culture and the media. From the beginning, Cultural Studies has been understood as an interdisciplinary field of study and research which uses a variety of approaches from history, sociology, anthropology, literary studies and, more recently, also gender and postcolonial studies. Theoretically speaking, Cultural Studies does not privilege any particular point of view, but has been influenced by, and has itself also influenced, such diverse paradigms as semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, postmodernism and constructivism.
Culture can be considered very broadly as “a whole way of life” (Raymond Williams) which, more specifically, also includes the sign systems we employ to represent, communicate and make sense of our lives. These sign systems can be ‘decoded’ in different ways. Cultural Studies does not only look at so-called ‘high’ culture like canonized literature, music and art, but especially at popular culture, including such phenomena as pop music, advertisements, films and television, or clothing. Cultural Studies also investigates what these cultural products represent, how they are produced, distributed and consumed. In the course of their studies, students will be made familiar with the astonishing diversity of culture and society and will be equipped with a great variety of theoretical and methodological tools.
Cultural Studies is highly relevant for students and future teachers of English because it enables them not only to understand and analyze one particular culture but also, by understanding one culture, to grasp how cultural processes ‘work’ in general. In this sense, British Cultural Studies at Dortmund University provides a deep insight into the past, present and future of British cultures and takes a close look at the various countries all over the world which Britain, as a former colonial power, has influenced and has been influenced by.
Areas of research (please visit their web pages for detailed information):
- Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer: British Cultural Studies, History of Britain and the British Empire, The Sea as a Cultural Space, Cultural Memory: Anti-Colonial Resistance, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad
- Dr. phil. Stefan Schlensag: Poetry and Poetics, Theory of Landscapes, Film Analysis, Popular Culture, Post-Colonial Studies, Research Project: The Medway Poets
- Cyprian Piskurek: Popular Culture, Football Fan Culture, Empire, 20th- century novel (Graham Greene, Patrick Hamilton, Norman Mailer) Doctoral thesis: Representations of Football and its Fan Culture
- Christian Lenz: 21st-century British Fiction, Postmodernism, Depictions of Horror, City Novels and Films
- Marie Hologa: Post-Colonialism, Globalisation & Nationalism, Postmodernism, Gender & Performativity, Contemporary Scottish Fiction