Cultural studies and reception
Many of the ideas already introduced in this book-especially those focused on ideology, representation, and audio-visual form, are central to cultural studies, an interdisciplinary field that (broadly) seeks to understand various aspects of human cultures via the texts they produce and consume. In Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice, author Chris Barker suggests that the “intellectual strands of cultural studies” include ideas drawn from Marxism and ideology, structuralism and poststructuralism, psychoanalysis and subjectivity, and “the politics of difference: feminism, race, and postcolonial theory” (12). As such, cultural studies might be thought of as a synthesis of many different Western, twentieth-century ways of thinking about culture and cultural artifacts. And cultural studies understands “culture” in its broadest possible terms, addressing topics as diverse as human biology and emotion, space and nation, globalization, urbanization, history, digital media, various types of social difference, the relationships between dominant cultures and subcultures, and for the explicit purposes of this chapter, film and television texts (as well as their industries and audiences). As such, some of this chapter may seem like a review of certain ideas already presented in previous chapters-and expanded upon in later ones-but herein they are synthesized into a more comprehensive portrait of this thing called cultural studies, especially as it relates to film and TV. To a great extent, because of cultural studies’ integrated approach to understanding texts within and against their cultural contexts, much contemporary film and television scholarship might be considered to be in the “cultural studies” mode. Such work often draws upon one or more of the various methodologies explored throughout this book, but it also seeks to place its analyses (auteur, genre, psychoanalytic, etc.) within their specific socio-cultural, historical, and industrial contexts. Broadly, that is the central goal of cultural studies scholarship: relating texts to contexts. In this way, cultural studies explores what texts tell us about the cultures that produce and consume them, and vice versa, how texts are produced within specific cultural contexts.