[csaa-forum] Cultural studies in Australia

Professor Graeme Turner graeme.turner at uq.edu.au
Sun Aug 28 14:21:13 CST 2005

I wasn't planning to get involved in this; I regard Simon's dismissive 
comment about Australian cultural studies as a polemical move, really, 
more to do with positioning than analysis. For what it's worth, it is 
not an entirely new account and I have never accepted it as completely 
convincing -- even during the mid-1990s, which is when it was first 
articulated and when there was more reason to assent to it than now.

But, reading Simon's own post has dragged me in. I am afraid I can't 
let this personal comment go without responding: 

'neither of them [Hartley and Turner] (I think they'd agree)are 
involved in the more theoretical...critical, politically engaged 
strands of the rield'. 

Que? Makes me wonder, just what I have been doing lately? For the 
record, (and I'm sure John Hartley can answer for himself) I most 
emphatically (perhaps even indignantly) do not agree. Indeed, I think 
the last four or five years have been among my most critically and 
politically engaged. Maybe because much of that engagement has been 
face to face with politicians, bureaucrats etc -- in addition to the 
normal academic channels--it doesn't count. Maybe Simon just hasn't 
read any of my published work in recent years; personally 
disappointing, but not necessarily surprising. Whatever the reason, 
this characterisation of my activities in our field is simply wrong.
Graeme Turner

----- Original Message -----
From: Simon During <simond at jhu.edu>
Date: Saturday, August 27, 2005 8:30 am
Subject: [csaa-forum] Cultural studies in Australia
> Hi y'all:
> Could I just say that as far as I am concerned it's great to see 
> that quote
> from my book serve as the beginning of a discussion about creative
> industries and cultural studies etc.. But if anyone wants to get a 
> realsense of where it stands on issues like populism,  Hartley, 
> creativeindustries, the cultural studies discipline etc they 
> probably need to read
> the whole thing through. And I don't think people will find it 
> coming from
> where they'd anticipate if all they've read is those few sentences 
> (whichisn't all it gets to say about cultural studies in Australia 
> either?andwhile I am at it let me give a plug here and now for The 
> Cultural Studies
> Review which obviously belongs to a whole other world than the one 
> gesturedat in those remarks.).  By the by: Cultural Studies: a 
> critical introduction
> was written as a textbook, not an introductory one, with a very 
> strict word
> limit and it's a bit unusual in that it doesn't so much try 
> neutrally to
> explain stuff to students and readers as to engage them head on.
> But maybe I can try to move the discussion forward in a slightly 
> differentdirection.  I remember going to the first CSAA meeting, I 
> don't recall the
> exact year (1991?) but I think it was held at the campus of 
> Western Sydney.
> Pretty much everyone who had been involved in getting the field 
> going in
> Australia were there, and at its centre was the group of people 
> who had done
> most to get it off the ground and who were recognised as having 
> made the
> strongest intellectual contributions up to that point: people like 
> MeaghanMorris, John Frow, Tony Bennett, Graeme Turner, Stephen 
> Muecke, John
> Hartley....  And as soon as I recall that event I begin to wonder 
> about what
> has happened to all those people and about the kinds of work they 
> do now. Am
> I right in saying that, while all are still academically active, 
> only John
> and Graeme work today in anything like mainstream cultural studies in
> Australia, and neither of them (I think they'd agree) are involved 
> in the
> more theoretical (or philisophical), critical, politically engaged 
> strandsof the field?  Does that matter?  Is it a sign of anything? 
>  If so, what's
> it a sign of?
> Simon
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