The Centre for Critical Studies was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

The Working Practices of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies

Tuesday 21 October 2014, 2:30 - 3:30pm
CCCS Seminar Room, Level 4,  Forgan Smith Tower (Building 1)
St Lucia Campus [see map

Click here for the audio recording

ABSTRACT

This paper provides a critical assessment of the working practices of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (BCCCS), the research unit established by Richard Hoggart in 1964 and widely seen as the institutional origin of what has become the global field of cultural studies. Drawing on an archive of Centre material set up to mark the 50th anniversary of its establishment, the paper will explore how a new generation of Leftist thinkers in Britain attempted to engage with a society increasingly dominated by affluence, new forms of mass media and the cultures of consumption. The Centre’s remarkable productivity and place at the forefront of the field has led to an element of nostalgia and myth-making around the so-called ‘Birmingham School’, something that remains apparent more than a decade after its controversial closure. Using archival material and interviews conducted with more than 50 former staff and students at BCCCS, this paper attempts to unpick such nostalgia. It shows first how the Centre’s project became increasingly unviable in the context of ongoing hostility from the University of Birmingham, the established academic disciplines and the wider intellectual Left, as well as the emergence of identity politics in Britain during the late-1970s. More than that, however, the paper argues that these attacks were in fact prefigured much earlier within the Centre, from the moment Stuart Hall and others attempted to embrace the collectivism symbolised by the politics of 1968. Rather than the coherency implied by the ‘Birmingham School’ label, then, fragmentation was in fact a characteristic written into the heart of the Centre’s working practices almost from the very beginning.

BIO

Kieran Connell currently a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and from January will become a Lecturer in Contemporary British History at Queen’s University Belfast. He has written on photography and reggae music, curated a major exhibition on the history of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and is currently working on his first monograph, an exploration of ‘race’ in the context of 1980s Britain. Dr Connell will be based at CCCS as a Visiting Research Fellow during October as part of a Universitas 21 Fellowship.
 
Dr Connell will also be screening an interview he conducted with the late Stuart Hall in the CCCS Seminar Room on Thursday 23 October. Full details here.
 
 
This seminar will be chaired by Emeritus Professor Graeme Turner.
Members of the public are invited to attend this free seminar, after which light refreshments will be served.
 
Enquiries: Fergus Grealy, Events Co-ordinator
P: (07) 3346 9764 | F: (07) 3365 7184 | E: f.grealy@uq.edu.au
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