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• James Naremore and Patrick Brantlinger (eds), Modernity and Mass Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), $14.95 (paperback)


Most of the essays in this collection derive from a series of lectures on ‘The Theory and Interpretation of Mass Culture’ given at Indiana University in 1988/9 and with its combination of ‘British’ and American contributors the collection is further evidence of the extent to which a revamped version of ‘cultural studies’ has taken off in the United States. An earlier indication of this shift was the ‘Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture’ conference held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983.1 Later signs were the regular importing of (mainly male) ‘British’ personnel (Stuart Hall, Perry Anderson, Peter Wollen, Colin MacCabe, Stephen Heath, Dick Hebdige) and the transformation of ‘communication studies’ journals such as Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Communication, Journal of Communication Inquiry along more broadly cultural-studies lines. A commodity was invented called ‘British cultural studies’ (which, in America, stands for the work of the 1970s and 1980s of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Screen and Screen Education and, say, the three issues of Formations). A short-hand way of characterising this transformation of paradigms and institutions would be to say that North American communication/cultural studies discovered Stuart Hall. Perhaps this is what Leslie Fiedler had in mind years ago when he spoke of the need for ‘crossing the border, closing the gap’ in discussions of high/low culture.