Banality, Book Publishing, and the Everyday Life of Cultural Studies – Ted Striphas

Thirty-nine years ago, Penguin Books published Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a scandalous book for its time, and, as it turns out, one unusually important to the history of cultural studies’ institutionalization. The text quickly caught the attention of British prosecutors, containing as it did not only sexually ‘explicit’ material, but also multiple instances of the word ‘fuck’. Doubtless, the book would prove a powerful test case of England’s new obscenity laws. After initial requests (and Penguin’s subsequent refusals) to censor parts of Lady Chatterley, the Crown brought the press to trial.

Two years before, Penguin Books published the paperback edition of Richard Hoggart’s now-famous study, The Uses of Literacy. Allen Lane, who had founded Penguin just prior to World War II, asked Hoggart to testify on behalf of the press. The reasoning was simple: as Hoggart described the events many years later, he and the other expert witnesses chosen by Lane to justify the book’s literary merit were all ‘elderly men of letters’, not the ‘long-haired dilettantes’ the prosecution had expected and whose character could easily have been impugned (1992: 54). Following two weeks of testimony in autumn, 1960, Penguin Books was cleared of the obscenity charges and freed to continue publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover uncensored.

In 1962, the English department at the University of Birmingham offered Hoggart a professorship. He accepted the position on several conditions, one of which was that he be permitted to establish a graduate center for contemporary cultural studies. Birmingham’s Vice-Chancellor accepted Hoggart’s proposal, but with the stipulation that he find funding for the center himself (1992: 77). Some have suggested that Hoggart asked Allen Lane to contribute funding to the inchoate Birmingham Centre to cash in the favor of testifying at the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial a few years earlier (see, for example, MacCabe, 1992: 29). Although Hoggart denies that he approached Lane with the intention of requesting ‘a covert thank-you’ for his testimony, Penguin Books nevertheless funded the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies for seven years, to the tune of £2400 per year. Chatto, the publisher of the hardback edition of The Uses of Literacy, contributed a small subsidy to the Centre as well (1992: 89-90).

My purpose in revisiting this story of the establishment of the Birmingham Centre is not to fetishize it as the founding of cultural studies as much as it is an attempt to illustrate how, at least in its trajectory out of Birmingham, the institutionalization of cultural studies in the academy has gone hand-in-glove with the institution of book publishing. Of course, much has changed in both institutions, as well as in their relationship, since Hoggart tapped Lane to help fund the Centre. Hoggart believed that Lane ‘had created a major democratic instrument; he had believed in greater access to the world of ideas for “the people of England/Who have not spoken yet”‘ (1992: 51). For Hoggart, the logic behind institutionalizing cultural studies, both in the academy and in book publishing, lay in the potential for democratizing knowledge and learning. Fast-forward to 1999. Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant tell a very different story. Their concerns lie with what they perceive to be cultural studies’ rationalization and universalization of knowledge, an activity driven on, they allege, by the institution of academic book publishing:

Thus do purely marketing decisions homogenize research and university teaching in accordance with fashions coming from America, sometimes managing to fabricate outright ‘disciplines’ like cultural studies, this mongrel domain born in England in the Seventies [sic], which owes its international dissemination—if not the whole of its existence—to a successful publishing strategy. (1999: 74)

While I agree with Bourdieu and Wacquant’s claims in principle, I remain surprised that such an otherwise careful sociological team would advance so sweeping, and, indeed, so relatively unsubstantiated an indictment of cultural studies and book publishing practices. This essay investigates the institutionalization of cultural studies against the backdrop of changes taking place in the book publishing industry and in the academy.

It proceeds from the assumption that institutions—in this case, institutions of academic book publishing—are complex sites where cultural studies, as an intellectual formation, gets negotiated and defined. It thus refuses to reduce cultural studies’ institutionalization in the book publishing industry to a crude economic determinism. That is to say, while I accept Bourdieu and Wacquant’s argument that market forces bear upon the proliferation of cultural studies, and, by extension, on the conditions of possibility for producing ‘other’ legitimate forms of academic knowledge, I nevertheless recognize that such polemical claims can efface the complexity of cultural studies’ institutional realities as well as possibilities for struggle. Indeed, the commodification of cultural studies scholarship does not provide any guarantee of its homogenization. Those claims need to be established empirically, not inferred. Broadly, this essay locates itself in between Hoggart’s perhaps naïve optimism about the democratizing potential of publishing and Bourdieu/Wacquant’s pessimism over the homogenization of knowledge that they see as emblematic of the market-driven imperative to publish cultural studies titles today.

The purpose of this essay, then, is strategic. It asks, what are the contemporary conditions of possibility for the institutionalization of cultural studies in book publishing? What can intellectuals and publishers working in the field do both to encourage and to engage in better publishing practices under present conditions? That is to say, assuming that dangers inhere in institutionalization, how might practitioners of cultural studies and publishers facilitate better forms and practices of institutionalization, specifically in the book publishing industry? Part one revisits Meaghan Morris’ (1990; 1996) essay, ‘Banality in Cultural Studies’, with an eye towards identifying some of the political-intellectual dimensions of publishing cultural studies books. In part two, I argue that the present ‘boom’ in cultural studies book publishing derives at once from the growing corporatization of universities and the ambiguity of the term ‘cultural studies’. Part three assesses the rhetoric and practices that together comprise the ‘boom’ in cultural studies book publishing, a ‘boom’ that, ironically, marginalizes the scholarship of large numbers of people working outside of its historic centers. I conclude with some strategies for challenging the present configuration of cultural studies, institutionalization, and book publishing.

Banality in/of Cultural Studies

For some time now, I have wanted to retitle Meaghan Morris’ (1990) essay, ‘Banality in Cultural Studies’, to the admittedly clunkier, ‘Banality in/of Cultural Studies’. Of course, Morris’ title remains appropriate, given that the majority of the piece explores how the theoretical/analytical categories of ‘the banal’ and ‘banality’ found expression in cultural studies during the 1980s, especially in the work of John Fiske, Jean Baudrillard, and Michel de Certeau. On the other hand, Morris’ interest in the use of the category ‘banality’ in cultural studies seems to derive from her concern for the growing banality of cultural studies:

[S]ometimes, when distractedly reading magazines such as New Socialist or Marxism Today from the last couple of years, flipping through the pages of Cultural Studies, or scanning the pop-theory pile in the bookstore, I get the feeling that somewhere in some English publisher’s vault there is a master disk from which thousands of versions of the same article about pleasure, resistance, and the politics of consumption are being run off under different names with minor variations. (1990: 21)

Morris clearly maintains more than just a scholarly interest in the role ‘banality’ has played, and continues to play, in cultural studies. Her concerns lie, rather, with the ways in which cultural studies’ researches into the repetitive routines of everyday life and popular culture can themselves fall prey to conservatizing impulses, viz., routinization, universalization, and, ultimately, de-politicization. For Morris, banal cultural studies looms large when ‘the ordinary is no longer the object of analysis but the place from which discourse is produced’ (1990: 35). Cultural studies threatens to become banal when economic and institutional forces militate against the production of new, innovative, and contextually defined theory/research, favoring instead the reproduction and exportation of already proven (i.e. saleable) scholarship.

Morris’ jab at the unnamed English publisher and its master disk signals her frustration with the book publishing industry as a key institution (or aggregate of institutions) apparently involved in the banalization of cultural studies. Indeed, the theme of banality in/of cultural studies recurs implicitly throughout her essays on the field’s fraught relationship to book publishing (see, for example, Morris 1990; Morris, 1998a; and Morris, 1998b). In ‘Publishing Perils and How to Survive Them: A Guide for Graduate Students’, Morris argues that despite publishers’ efforts to diversify and to democratize the market for academic titles, à la the imaginations of Richard Hoggart, the ‘Routledge model’ nevertheless has managed to prevail (1998a: 502). According to Morris, this model consists of sacrificing the quality of editing and production in the name of efficiency; pressuring authors to produce ‘fashionable, saleable topics’; and over-saturating the market with vast numbers of strikingly similar titles that, together, can undercut the possibility of any one title becoming too intellectually viable (1998a: 502). She goes on to conclude, pessimistically, that it has become ‘quite hard to publish anything original or heterodox in cultural studies’, owing to, among other factors, the alleged generalization throughout the book publishing industry of the commercial scholarly presses’ business and editorial practices (1998a: 504). Changes in academic book publishing threaten to blunt cultural studies’ political and intellectual cutting edge, reducing it from an engaged critical praxis to a banal and repetitive scholarly exercise.

Doubtless, Morris’ position on banality, book publishing, and cultural studies is grounded in her extensive experience as author and editor of numerous books, journals, and articles, some published by large, transnational academic presses (for example, Routledge), others by smallish, local independents (for example, Feral Publications). Her points are well taken, pointing out as they do some of the dangers that inhere in the professionalization and commodification of cultural studies, vis-à-vis book publishing. Regrettably, however, my sense is that her portrait of the scholarly publishing industry remains too totalizing, thereby leaving inadequate room if not for open struggle, then at least for conceiving of better, more progressive ways to confront the specter of banality in/of cultural studies book publishing. Useful as it is, for example, to think in terms of the dangers posed by the ‘Routledge model’, the extent to which that model has been generalized across scholarly presses remains unclear in her analysis. Thinking the scholarly book publishing industry in this way obscures important differences that exist across larger and smaller presses, newer and older presses, commercial scholarly presses and non-profit university presses, etc. With that, Morris’ diagnosis of the relationship of cultural studies to the book publishing industry remains unmatched by an equally sustained effort to strategize how best to proceed, short of her suggestion that graduate students might ‘soften the ground’ for change in their fields by publishing in journals or by starting up their own (Morris, 1998a: 504).1

Still, Morris’ (1990; 1998a; 1998b) work on banality in/of cultural studies remains vitally important, in part because it represents one of just a handful of efforts addressing explicitly the issue of the field’s institutionalization within the context of the book publishing industry (see also Bennett, 1998: 20; Gray, 1996: 204-205; Grossberg, 1996b: 135; Nelson & Watt, 1999: 226-232). Although undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that ‘cultural studies’ material and economic promise . . . contributes, as much as its intellectual achievement, to its current vogue’ (Nelson, et al., 1992: 1), many inquiries into the institutionalization of cultural studies treat ‘institutionalization’ as though it refers narrowly to the field’s incorporation in the university—my own, earlier work in this area included (see Striphas, 1998; see also Green, 1996; Grossberg, 1996a; Hall, 1992; Nelson, 1996; Rooney, 1996).2 But approaching the institutionalization of cultural studies in this way occludes how the conditions of possibility for its institutionalization into university curricula depend in part upon the activities of other institutions, agents, and intermediaries, for example, book publishing and book editors, not to mention book distributors, reviewers, buyers, and sellers, among many others.3 The everyday life and practices of cultural studies are not defined simply in the academy, but rather in the complex interplay of multiple, sometimes competing, institutions, along with the agents/intermediaries who work within and across them.

As I suggested above, it is important to bear in mind that conceiving of institutions like the book publishing industry in homogeneous or monolithic terms can prove strategically and politically disempowering. While most practitioners working in cultural studies certainly maintain some degree of familiarity with the distinguishing characteristics of various presses, pointing out some their basic similarities and differences remains an important task: first, to avoid descriptive caricature and/or theoretical reductionism; and second, to lay the groundwork to conceive of better forms and practices by which cultural studies can continue its institutionalization in book publishing.4

The publication of cultural studies titles generally takes place within a tripartite system consisting of university presses, trade presses, and commercial academic presses. Often considered the most prestigious among the institutions of academic book publishing, given their historically stringent refereeing, revising, and editorial practices, university presses operate under a not-for-profit status and are overseen by faculty advisory boards. Some, although not all, of the university presses receive subventions from their universities— funding that often varies significantly from year to year—along with other intangible forms of support, such as free office space, furniture, etc. Many operate at or near a loss; frequently, a handful of best-selling books and journals subsidizes the publication of less-widely consumed monographs and journals that fail to cover their production costs. In theory, university presses are better positioned to facilitate keeping titles in print longer than their commercial counterparts, owing to their relative insulation from the mandate to turn a profit. American university presses publish about 8,000 books annually, accounting for about one-sixth of the total number of books published in the U.S. (Shapiro, 1998: B9; Shapiro, 1996a: B8). Most of these books are sold to individuals and libraries. University presses known for publishing cultural studies titles include Duke University Press, Harvard University Press, Indiana University Press, the University of Minnesota Press, New York University Press, and Oxford University Press, among others.

Trade presses operate rather differently than the university presses, however. Given that the trades are profit driven, economic considerations bear more directly—although not exclusively—upon their decision-making practices. At the trade presses, book agents more often than not act as intermediaries between authors and editors, sometimes securing advances for their clients and/or providing feedback on manuscripts. Typically, scholarly books published through the trades are not subjected to the rigorous peer review procedures characteristic of the university presses; most revision takes place in consultation between author and editor. Still, trade presses retain a fair amount of scholarly prestige, given that they generally publish only those books anticipated to sell in large quantities. In the recent past, trade presses would publish ‘midlist’ books expected to sell around 5,000-8,000 copies, in addition to those titles counted on to sell 10,000 copies or more. Today, increasing commercial pressures on the trades have resulted in the gradual erosion of the midlist, leaving it even harder for academics to publish through these already fairly exclusive outlets (Shapiro, 1997c: B7). Trade books are distributed more widely in bookstores and superstores than those published by the university presses. Beacon Press,5 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux/Hill and Wang, The New Press, Pantheon/Vintage/Random House, Penguin Books, and Verso, among others, are trade houses that publish or have published cultural studies and related titles.

Like the trade presses, the profit-orientation of the commercial academic presses means that economics guides a fair amount—but again, not all—of their decision-making. Perhaps as little as ten or fifteen years ago, some of these presses continued to publish a ‘prestige list’ at a loss (Morris, 1998a: 501). Those days have more or less passed, however. Some commercial academic presses work with book agents, although more typically scholars negotiate ideas, contracts, etc., directly with editors. Practices of review and revision vary widely from press to press. Some follow rigorous peer review procedures resembling those of the university presses, publishing a book only after the author has revised the manuscript thoroughly, often multiple times. Others have been known occasionally to treat peer review and the process of revision more or less as afterthoughts (see Boynton, 1995: 29). For this reason, tenure and review committees frequently evaluate books published by commercial academic presses as though they were less prestigious (i.e. less scholarly) than those published by university presses—judgements that may or may not be justified, depending on the specific press’ editorial procedures. Although bookstores represent an important market for commercial academic publishers, characteristically, textbook and library sales account for the majority of their revenue. Some commercial academic presses emphasize publishing more original, scholarly titles over textbooks and course readers; others do just the opposite; and still others take a kind of hybrid approach, publishing reasonably original scholarship along with some anthologies, in turn marketing that work primarily to students and teachers for classroom use. Most defer publishing ‘traditional’ scholarly monographs to the university presses, given that these highly specialized studies often appeal to very small audiences comprised of just a few hundred people and libraries, leaving them, as far as the commercial academic presses are concerned, economically unviable. Major commercial academic presses publishing cultural studies titles include Allen and Unwin, Arnold, Bay Press, Blackwell, Peter Lang, Routledge, Sage, and Westview Press. More and more seem to arrive on the scene every year.6

This brief sketch of the academic book publishing industry barely begins to scratch the surface of the differences that exist across the publishers that together comprise the university presses, the trades, and the commercial academic presses. With that, I want to note the strong and perhaps less obvious ties that exist between institutions of book publishing and academic cultural studies, beyond the fact that academics merely provide the ‘raw material’ publishers eventually bring to press. People working in cultural studies edit book series, review manuscripts, and serve as advisors to publishers, often receiving various forms of remuneration, typically in the form of royalties and complimentary books, for doing so. The point is not to scandalize this involvement; it is, rather, to underscore that one cannot criticize the practices of book publishers without also taking seriously the ways in which academics who claim cultural studies themselves participate directly, indirectly—and frequently—in the practices of these institutions.7 Given these and other ties, and assuming that Meaghan Morris’ (1998a) point about the ‘Routledge model’ has some measure of truth to it, we are, as it were, the Routledge model—or at least deeply implicated in it.8 This observation should at once prove sobering and empowering: sobering because it means that practitioners of cultural studies can no longer criticize the activities of cultural studies presses absent critical self-reflection; empowering because people working in cultural studies hold important, quasi-bureaucratic positions in relation to this wing of the culture industry and thereby stand to influence some its practices.

Banality and the Boom

Part and parcel of the threat of banal cultural studies is what Meaghan Morris (1988/1996) identified over a decade ago as a ‘boom’ taking place in the field.9 Like a gold rush, most booms seem to go bust before the majority of people even realize one has started, much less have time to capitalize on it. But cultural studies departments, programs, and centers increasingly dot university campuses (Striphas, 1998a); more and more cultural studies titles seem to be added to publishers’ lists every year;10 the sheer number of publishers turning out cultural studies books is on the rise; and bookstores are scrambling to find room on their shelves to accommodate all the influx (Marshall, 1995: 27). Cultural studies, in short, still seems to be booming. This boom in turn raises particularly thorny questions about the conditions of possibility for its ongoing institutional success and expansion: What role does book publishing play in the present cultural studies boom? And what is the relationship of the present cultural studies boom to ‘what . . . is possible to do and say in its name’ (Morris, 1988/1996: 147-148)?

Bill Readings diagnoses some of these conditions in The University in Ruins. He argues that contemporary global capital relies less and less on the nation-state as the primary arbiter of capitalism’s self-reproduction (1996: 3, 89). Consequently, he contends, the historic mission of universities—that is, to teach and inculcate students into national culture—has lost most, if not all, of its purchase (1996: 5, 12). He goes on to argue that a managerial, corporate ethos comes to dominate university administration and curriculum development, one increasingly committed to cost-cutting, downsizing, and streamlining the allegedly bloated and inefficient bureaucracies endemic to modern universities. Consolidation of disciplines into interdisciplinary programs and departments, union-breaking, the replacement of full-time faculty by low-wage, overworked, part-time adjuncts, vocational teaching, and the signature discourse of ‘excellence’ are among the most widely recognized and despaired symptoms of this new managerialism (see also Giroux, 1999; Nelson & Watt, 1999: 84-98).

Another, perhaps less-widely acknowledged way in which the corporatization of the university manifests itself is through cutbacks in library budgets and changes in library spending practices. A study carried out by the Association of Research Libraries shows that between 1985 and 1995, American university libraries decreased spending on scholarly monographs by 23 percent, alongside an 8 percent decrease in spending on journals—this despite a net increase of 24 percent more graduate students, 8 percent more undergraduates, and 17 percent more faculty during the same period of time (cited in Shapiro, 1997b: B4). Some have speculated that an additional 20 percent decrease in library book purchasing could occur in the foreseeable future (Nelson & Watt, 1999: 227). Indeed, given the decade-plus long expansion of interlibrary loan programs and the drive to decrease fixed-capital/storage cost expenditures by shifting to electronic and web-based library resources, this rather pessimistic projection does not seem altogether unrealistic. As a result of these spending shifts, the last two decades have witnessed the gradual erosion of long-standing purchasing agreements between university presses and university libraries. Whereas the former once counted on selling several thousand hardbound copies of many, if not most, of their editions to the latter, today that number has plummeted to as low as 200-300 (Nelson & Watt, 1999: 227-229). In short, the move away from the modern university toward the hollowed out and streamlined ‘university of excellence’ has resulted in what Thatcher calls a ‘breakdown’ of the usual markets for academic book publishers (1995: B2).

These changes, in turn, have redefined how/to whom many publishers now market academic books, the kinds of academic books they will/will not publish, and whose work will make it to press and whose will not—cultural studies titles included. The burden of selling to libraries has been offset partly by redirecting marketing efforts and sales to individuals—above all, to students. Of the 63 books featured in Arnold Publisher’s 1998 Cultural, Media, and Literary Studies catalog, for instance, 47 identified undergraduates as their primary readership. Arnold earmarked another 14 books for ‘students of . . .’ (for example, media and cultural studies, literary studies, etc.). Routledge’s media and cultural studies catalogs tell a comparable story. The editorial statements from 1993-1999 consistently highlight books and textbooks aimed at students; the last three statements (1997-1999) extend a welcome to ‘students, teachers, and researchers’—always in that order and without mentioning libraries.11 Similarly, upon taking her position as cultural studies editor at Blackwell in 1998, Jayne Fargnoli conducted extensive research into cultural studies curricula at 32 leading North American and British universities. Her objective: to ascertain the prevalence and types of cultural studies courses available to undergraduate and graduate students, in an effort to better tailor the nascent Blackwell cultural studies list to recent curricular and pedagogical developments (1999: personal communication). Julia Hall, senior editor for Media and Communication Studies at Sage, Ltd., likewise solicits and commissions cultural studies and other titles, always bearing in mind existing university course structures and curricula. According to Hall, third and fourth year undergraduates and graduate students make up the target audience for most cultural studies titles published by Sage (1999: personal communication).12 Finally, some critics have expressed concern for the way in which the editorial and marketing practices of university press are coming to resemble those of their commercial counterparts (see, for example, Shapiro, 1997c: B7). Coupled with declining subventions and the withering of purchasing agreements with libraries, I think it is fair to say that we should expect to see more textbooks and readers published by the university presses in the coming years. The point here is that the boom in cultural studies book publishing has been defined partly by the production of very specific types of books, viz., textbooks and other scholarly titles geared toward a student audience for instructional purposes—not simply by cultural studies titles per se.13

In the U.S., tenure and promotion committees have long considered textbooks and course readers to be lesser scholarly contributions than, say, refereed journal articles or monographs. Sometimes, these committees refuse to treat them as scholarly contributions altogether. The reasoning is simple: customarily, textbooks and course readers consist of summary re-presentations of already existing literature rather than original research. As such, they do little (or less) to advance scholarship in a given discipline or field. Bourdieu adds that textbooks, anthologies, and other student-oriented publications can sanctify certain disciplinary histories and forms of knowledge while obscuring others:

Born in the classroom and destined to return to rest in the classroom, these studies [textbooks] most often perpetuate an outmoded state of knowledge, instituting and canonizing problems and debates which only exist and subsist through the inertia of academically objectified and incorporated syllabuses. They are the natural prolongation of . . . reproductive teaching . . . rather than produc[ing] a new or even heretical body of knowledge, or the ability and inclination to produce such knowledge. (1988: 102)

For Bourdieu, textbooks and student readers threaten to undermine the productivity of key controversies constitutive of new scholarly knowledge and research, since they serve principally to reproduce a given discipline or field rather than to advance it. In different terms, textbooks and course readers run the risk of banalizing, as opposed to energizing, scholarship.

Although I remain generally sympathetic to Bourdieu’s argument, it nevertheless needs a bit of fine-tuning. The publication of cultural studies textbooks and course readers does not necessarily result in banal cultural studies. In fact, I agree with Tony Bennett that this sort of work ‘is very much to be welcomed’ if cultural studies is to continue to take seriously its long-standing commitment to institutionally-based forms of pedagogy (1998: 20). The problem of banality arises when publishing cultural studies books with a more ‘reproductive’ aim takes place at the expense of publishing more original, cutting-edge research, a situation that results in wildly unbalanced book lists. Regrettably, given corporate-style cutbacks in university libraries and the corresponding over-emphasis on student book markets, cutting-edge books, particularly those by younger scholars, appear increasingly endangered. For example, Julia Hall (Sage) proposed a hypothetical (although apparently realistic) situation during our interview in which:

somebody sends [her] an unreconstructed Ph.D., and [she says], ‘no, I can’t do that, but what are you teaching’? And they’ll say, ‘Well, I’m teaching an introductory course on X’. And [she says]

, ‘Well, that sounds like a stunningly good idea for a book. Why don’t you write that book’? (1999: personal communication)

The upshot, of course, is that this hypothetical young scholar does get the opportunity to publish a book, but one that likely will not push the bounds of scholarship in cultural studies to the extent that a properly revised dissertation conceivably could.

Decentering the Boom

According to Thomas Frank, cultural studies ‘dominates the liberal arts as no pedagogy has since the Cold War’ (1998: 6). Cary Nelson and Stephen Watt count cultural studies among ‘the hottest areas for publication’ in the human sciences (1999: 230). And recently, Herman Gray expressed concern for the ‘increasing visibility’ of cultural studies, ‘exemplified in the proliferation of cultural studies lists by academic publishing houses’ (1996: 205). Collectively, these authors affirm that a cultural studies publishing boom continues. Yet I am struck by how little empirical evidence supports their claims. Is there indeed a boom in publishing cultural studies titles? If so, what is its extent? Where is it taking place? What are its effects? My sense is that claims about the cultural studies publishing boom, such as those presented above, tend to be more presumptive rather than empirically grounded. As such, they run the risk of inflating its magnitude and narrowly conceiving its effects. My intention is not to deny that there may still indeed be a boom taking place. Rather, I want to make a stronger case for the specificity of the boom, so as to better apprehend its political and intellectual ramifications now and in the future.

By the numbers, cultural studies appears to be enjoying something of a boom in book publishing, although one perhaps more modest in scope than is often perceived. Several commercial and academic presses have joined more established cultural studies publishers such as Arnold, Routledge, and the University of Minnesota Press as major players publishing work in the field. Duke University Press replaced the literary and cultural criticism section of its catalog with a cultural studies section in late 1995, thereby signalling their entry into publishing in the field. Sage has published cultural studies-type titles since the early nineties (Sophy Craze, personal communication, October 25, 1999). However, only in 1997 did they make their first major foray into the field with the publication of the Open University/D318 series (overseen by Stuart Hall), The International Journal of Cultural Studies, and The European Journal of Cultural Studies. Peter Lang ventured into cultural studies around 1992; their first cultural studies books were published a couple of years thereafter (Craze, 1999: ).14 Clearly, cultural studies appears to have become an increasingly ‘hot’ area for publishers, particularly in the late-1990s.

Despite the fact that more and more presses have joined the ranks of those already publishing cultural studies titles, some evidence suggests that the ‘boom’ currently remains fairly moderate press to press. The number of new cultural studies titles advertised in the Routledge and Duke University Press catalogs, for instance, has varied considerably throughout the 1990s. There is no clear evidence to suggest that there has been a steady rise in the number of cultural studies titles published by either press in the last five years (see figure a). Similarly, although the total number of cultural studies titles Arnold has published since 1989 has increased overall, year to year that number has fluctuated up and down (Lesley Riddle, personal communication, November 15, 1999). Sage reports ‘a very steady increase’ in their yearly output of cultural studies titles since first venturing into the field in 1997. However, ‘at Sage the expectations for revenue growth are not so high for cultural studies as they are for some other lists’ (Hall, 1999: personal communication). I think it is fair to say that—right now—cultural studies is booming in book publishing, but to a fairly limited and not altogether consistent degree. By the same token, the number of publishers laying claim to cultural studies over the last five years suggests that an even more sizeable boom very well may occur in the near future.

1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Routledge15 13 14 34 30 19 17 23
Duke U.P. n/a n/a 1716 22 23 16 14

Figure a: New cultural studies titles at Routledge and Duke University Press, 1993-1999. Source: Routledge Media and Cultural Studies catalogs, 1993-1999; Duke University Press general catalog, 1995-1999.17

I suspect that many people’s impressions of the extent of the present boom in cultural studies book publishing derive at least partly from their experiences browsing in bookstores. Indeed, booksellers often seem to use their cultural studies sections as dumping grounds for media studies, film theory, communication studies, social psychology, and various other fields that demonstrate some vague relationship to ‘culture’ or leftism. During a recent trip to my local university bookstore, for instance, I found the following books shelved in the cultural studies section: Roy M. Berko, Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, and Larry A. Samovan’s textbook, Connecting: A Culture Sensitive Approach to Interpersonal Competency; Neil Howe and Bill Strauss’ Thirteenth Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail; Irwin Unger and Debi Unger’s (eds) The Times They Were a Changin’: A Sixties Reader; and Julia T. Wood’s Communication Mosaics: A New Introduction to the Field of Communication.18 Several months ago, I recall stumbling across Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book in the cultural studies section of a local mega-bookstore as well. I realize that this evidence is woefully anecdotal. Regrettably, conducting a rigorous analysis of the marketing and display practices of booksellers would exceed the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say that book publishing is not the only industry involved in institutionalizing cultural studies and thereby facilitating its boom. Booksellers, too, participate in, even amplify, this process.

Perhaps this explains why reading accounts of academic life lately can give the impression that cultural studies already has supplanted all other forms of scholarship in the human and social sciences. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, for instance, James Shapiro laments the way in which the publication of cultural studies titles increasingly (allegedly) impinges upon opportunities to publish work in other areas, especially the venerable institution of literary criticism:

As any acquisitions editor can tell you, all other things being equal, the likelihood that a monograph on cultural studies will be accepted for publication is far greater than that of a study of Milton, simply because the projected sales for one is 1,000 copies and for the other only a couple of hundred. (1996b: B6)

Shapiro continues: ‘It can hardly be a good thing . . . when the knowledge that we value is determined by market forces rather than by intellectual exchange’ (1996b: B6). William Dowling echoes Shapiro’s concerns, lambasting cultural studies for brokering in ‘trend-driven scholarly publishing’ after browsing through the gender and cultural studies section of his local book shop (1997: 1, 2). According to Dowling, the publication of Erica Rand’s (1995) Barbie’s Queer Accessories (Duke University Press) and Cynthia Baughman’s (ed.) (1995) Women on Ice: Feminist Essays on the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Spectacle (Routledge) illustrates the extent to which cultural studies has ‘demoralized’ scholarly publishing (1997: 12). By his estimation, academic publishers no longer maintain an interest in studies that make ‘a genuine contribution to knowledge’, particularly highly specialized efforts in literary criticism (1997: 8, 1). Together, Shapiro and Dowling suggest that market forces increasingly define scholarly legitimacy and that the apparent boom in cultural studies titles is symptomatic of this development. Both contend, in other words, that the drive to publish ‘trendy’ cultural studies titles undercuts the possibility of publishing work with ‘real’ scholarly integrity.

I want to bracket an assessment of the intellectual value of Barbie’s Queer Accessories and Women on Ice, given that neither Shapiro nor Dowling engages the intellectual content of these or other ‘cultural studies’ publications in any serious or direct way.19 Their evaluations rest, first, on the bifurcation of scholarly rigor and marketability, a tactic that permits them to dismiss the potential intellectual contributions of these and other cultural studies titles by virtue of their presumed success in the market. Such reasoning remains deeply flawed. Heaven knows, there is a tremendous market for, say, the various Norton literary anthologies, yet most folks seem relatively unconcerned about their scholarly (or literary) integrity. Alternatively, Shapiro and Dowling reduce scholarship about trendy, marketable things, to trendy, marketable things. That reduction does not follow. Second, Shapiro suggests that academic book publishing previously took place in a universe where ‘intellectual exchange’ proceeded along unfettered by the dictates of the market. But haven’t markets always strongly defined the decision-making of academic publishers? Before the recent downsizing of university library budgets, commercial and university presses could just more easily take ‘the market’—i.e. the library market—more or less for granted. This is less true today. Finally, Ken Wissoker, Editor-in-Chief of Duke University Press, questions the ‘zero-sum’ model underpinning Dowling’s objections to cultural studies (1997: B4). Wissoker points out that most academic presses publish more titles today than fifteen years ago. As such, the appearance of each new book in cultural studies by no means assures the disappearance of other, more specialized studies (1997: B4). The point here is that lamentations about the marketability or ‘trendiness’ of cultural studies titles indicate the extent to which, forty years after Hoggart founded the Birmingham Centre, the academy still refuses to take the popular seriously, to teach through it, in an effort to better meet students ‘where they are’. They do little to explain how and why academic book publishing markets themselves have undergone significant restructuring in recent years, much less identify good reasons why cultural studies might threaten the human and social sciences.

Still, cultural studies does pose a threat to the human and social sciences. Or, more precisely, a sufficiently hollowed-out project of cultural studies poses a danger to people at work in that end of the academy. The shift in academic book publishing away from library to student markets, the growing institutional presence of cultural studies in university curricula, and the ever-growing number of students in higher education, especially in North America, suggest that the cultural studies boom could explode into something quite unwieldy in the coming decades. Cultural studies can cut two ways, as it were. On the one hand, it continues to offer powerful, flexible approaches to research and teaching, approaches characterized by a commitment to interdisciplinarity, coupled with theoretical, methodological, practical, and political open-endedness. On the other hand, these very same commitments can lend themselves to the corporate university’s ‘restructuring’ program. Charles Acland (1999) worries about cultural studies becoming the new ‘interdisciplinary Esperanto’ of the human and social sciences—and with good reason. Like any ‘efficient’ business, the corporate university seeks out ways to downsize and streamline operations. Among other strategies, it turns to flexible and vaguely defined interdisciplinary programs/departments—like cultural studies—as a means to carry out its restructuring program. Already cultural studies shows signs of participating in the consolidation/elimination of departments, faculty, and staff across the humanities, social sciences, and area studies (Gray, 1996: 204; Readings, 1996: 91; Striphas, 1998b: 461). Those not downsized out of a job confront the academic equivalent of an assembly line speed-up, in the form of larger classes, longer hours, additional administrative responsibilities, etc.—typically with no net increase in pay or benefits.20 Banal cultural studies can produce baleful effects.

The corporate university can articulate cultural studies to its interests to the extent that the signifier ‘cultural studies’ remains ‘dereferentialized’.21 Dereferentialization involves divorcing cultural studies from a clear sense of a larger project, in Raymond Williams’ (1996) terms, a situation resulting in ill-defined, ungrounded, and often politically impracticable scholarship, teaching, and institutional formations—in short, banal cultural studies.22 The process of dereferentializing cultural studies occurs (and recurs) owing to, among other factors, the strong institutional ties many presses maintain these days to cultural studies curricula, and vice-versa.

Dereferentialization can happen, that is to say, when publishers model their cultural studies lists after fragmented and poorly defined institutionalizations of cultural studies in the university, a situation that in turn risks producing textbooks, students resources, etc., that mirror and reproduce this lack of project when they return there. As I mentioned above, Jayne Fargnoli (1999: personal communication) of Blackwell researched thirty-two cultural studies programs/curricula to see if she ‘could come to any sort of consensus about what cultural studies looks like . . . at the curricular or institutional level’. ‘Not surprisingly’, she states, ‘I couldn’t. At the curricular level, I think it’s too much of a hodge-podge’. Julia Hall (1999: personal communication) of Sage explains, likewise, that cultural studies is ‘kind of everywhere and nowhere’ in the academy. Their remarks suggest that cultural studies remains dereferentialized at the university/curricular level, a situation confirmed by the very broad and non-specific definitions of cultural studies some publishers maintain. For instance, Arnold defines cultural studies as ‘a multidisciplinary approach to the study of culture and society’ (Riddle, 1999: personal communication). Similarly, when I asked Jayne Fargnoli how Blackwell defines cultural studies, she replied:

It’s almost, what isn’t it? It’s none of the disciplines in which we [Blackwell] were already publishing, obviously. So it’s cultural studies, but even more than that, it’s all these other things that, as you say, just get appended to it. . . . [I]t’s race and ethnic studies for me; it’s—and, again, these are areas in which I commission—film; it’s television; it’s women’s studies/feminism and gender. It’s art theory; it’s communications; it’s media; it’s just kind of a whole bunch of things; also things like popular culture and American studies. (1999: personal communication)

This range of responses is not altogether unusual. Sage cross-lists many of its cultural studies titles with topics as broad-ranging as gender studies, politics, cultural geography, and management (Hall, 1999: personal communication); Peter Lang lumps communication and media studies together with cultural studies (Craze, 1999: personal communication); Routledge catalogs cultural studies with media studies and, on occasion, film studies; and so on. This evidence suggests that cultural studies remains quite loosely defined in institutions of book publishing, a situation that is at once symptomatic of and threatens to dereferentialize further cultural studies in the university.

Let me be clear: I do not mean to suggest that all presses publishing cultural studies titles model curricula in this way, nor do I mean to imply that all publishers do is dereferentialize cultural studies. Many presses and editors approach publishing in highly original and proactive ways. Moreover, I do not mean to suggest that all cultural studies programs, departments, and curricula institutionalize in the absence of a sense of project or organization. Indeed, some do (see, for example, Striphas, 1998: 464). My intention is, rather, to point out one possible relationship and one possible set of practices that threaten not only to banalize cultural studies, but also to facilitate regrettable labor practices in the university. Obviously, these do not exhaust the range of relationships or activities available to publishers and practitioners of cultural studies, though they are important to bear in mind.

All that said, it does strike me as odd to continue to speak of a boom in cultural studies book publishing without acknowledging how that ‘boom’ marginalizes very large numbers of people doing provocative work in cultural studies in Eastern and Southern Asia, Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Latin America, and many additional locales outside of the usual English-speaking (colonial) ‘centers’. Dipesh Chakrabarty attributes this imbalance to the hegemony of ‘global English’: a predicament whereby the so-called ‘global flow’ of information (read: books) facilitates the exportation of the problems, politics, histories, theories, and accounts of social and cultural life in the English speaking world, as though they were generalizable regardless of context. A related set of concerns animates Bourdieu and Wacquant’s recent critique of cultural studies, which they call ‘the new global vulgate’. They consider cultural studies to be an imperializing discourse (1998: 69), one that not only globalizes/universalizes Anglo-American perspectives, but that also interjects itself into contexts where cultural studies doesn’t seem to exist at all. Hence, Bourdieu and Wacquant object to Oxford University Press’23 recent French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, and German ‘cultural studies’ readers. Their contention: that the internationalization of academic book publishing has resulted in the world-wide dissemination of highly parochial, Anglo-American ideas and disciplinary formations in a manner that refuses to acknowledge their situatedness (1998: 73). They go even further, charging publishers, as I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, with having ‘fabricated’ cultural studies outright (1998: 74).

I agree that the Oxford University Press ‘cultural studies’ series represents a particularly gratuitous example of publishers capitalizing on the cultural studies moniker. Overall, it seems to me more like a series of ‘culture studies’ or literary-type readings of national culture than cultural studies per se. I disagree with Bourdieu and Wacquant’s assertion that publishers have ‘fabricated’ cultural studies, however. Throughout this essay I have argued that cultural studies gets produced, reproduced, and transformed in the complex interplay of agents/intermediaries working in and between the academy and institutions of book publishing/selling. In this sense, they too hastily ascribe a purely economic motive to the present cultural studies ‘boom’. Why, then, does it remain so geographically exclusive? What can be done to facilitate better or more balanced global flows of cultural studies?

It should come as no surprise that the editors with whom I spoke solicit work primarily from authors in the United States, the United Kingdom, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Australia and Canada.24 Some, such as Arnold, Routledge, and Sage, also encourage a limited amount of work from Continental English-language writers, most of whom hail from Northern Europe. These countries/regions constitute both the major sources and destinations of cultural studies titles. Publishers also market cultural studies to those South and East Asian countries (for example, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan) where Marxism constitutes something of an intellectual lingua franca and/or where, owing to legacy of British colonialism, English-language instruction persists in universities. This marketing often takes place, however, without the reciprocal solicitation of work evident in the North American, Northern European, and Australian contexts, at least to as significant a degree.25

Consistently, editors expressed their frustration with this imbalance, attributing its perpetuation to the prohibitive costs of travelling to these regions (especially for smaller and under-resourced presses), a lack of already existing contacts, and, or course, the corporate university’s retreat from libraries and the related decline of small press-run books. Doubtless, histories and practices of (neo)colonialism underwrite the unevenness characterizing the cultural studies publishing ‘boom’. There are no easy solutions. Larger, more financially enfranchised presses in some ways seem better positioned to effect change, given that they more easily can facilitate flying editors to conferences, meetings, and so on outside of the usual colonial centers. These presses often are less willing to publish books in which the perceived appeal in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia remains limited or uncertain, however. On the other hand, presses new to publishing cultural studies, such as Peter Lang, can maintain more flexibility with respect to commissioning and publishing work with less clearly defined markets (Craze, 1999: personal communication). How else would they carve out a niche for themselves? They seem poised, in other words, to trouble the usual, presumed tastes of the American, U.K., and Australian book-buying markets. Yet editors at these presses may suffer from limited support as long as cultural studies remains an unproven list financially, thus leaving it harder to travel, meet people, and acquire titles outside of the usual Anglo-American academic circles.

Conclusion: What is to be Done?

It seems clear that the present ‘boom’ in cultural studies will remain uneven and continue to follow the trajectory of global English until Anglo-American practitioners/ publishers re-evaluate their commitment to translation. The predominantly unidirectional flow of cultural studies titles and their conspicuous monolingualism empower practitioners located in its historic centers to speak about, rather than to, or in conversation with, scholarship originating in Eastern and Southern Asia, Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Latin America, and so on—if this scholarship is engaged at all. For Kuan-Hsing Chen, ‘[t]he danger of “internationalizing” cultural studies lies not so much in its uncontrollable speed of acceleration but in the deep effects of its tendency toward depoliticization, as well as in an expansionist colonization’ (1992: 476). In slightly different terms, the danger of internationalizing cultural studies vis-à-vis book publishing resides in its hardening into a banal, imperializing discourse, one unconcerned to reflect upon (the conditions of possibility of) its own enunciative ground, much less to entertain a plurality of voices and perspectives coming from outside of its usual centers. Translation holds the potential to disrupt the hegemony of global English by undermining the stability of (Anglo-American) cultural studies’ enunciative ground. Imagine, for example, if the journal Cultural Studies, or, better still, The International Journal of Cultural Studies, were published in six languages simultaneously, as would be Naoki Sakai’s proposed new journal Traces; and imagine if none of those six were the journal’s originary language; and finally, imagine that Traces were distributed alongside these journals. ‘Cultural studies’—both the journals and the field—would begin to look more properly international and decentered.26

These changes are unlikely to occur, however, unless there is a major turn of events in Anglo-American universities and their relationship to global capital. In Capital, Marx chides the Luddites for smashing the instruments of production, since, he argues, their actions stopped short of an attack on ‘the form of society which utilizes those instruments’ (1976: 554-555). Put another way, the Luddites managed to confuse the proximate enemy (machinery) for the true one (capital). Implicit in Bill Readings’ (1996) analysis of the emergence of the university of excellence is a similar lesson, albeit one that pertains to the ‘boom’/banalization of cultural studies and institutions of academic book publishing. The disproportionate amount of U.S./U.K./Australia-focused cultural studies textbooks and readers in our students’ backpacks is symptomatic of the effects of global capital on universities. However cathartic criticizing the practices of presses publishing these cultural studies titles might seem, such criticism, like the actions of the Luddites, would remain somewhat misdirected. Strategically speaking, bemoaning the activities of publishers does little to challenge directly the growing managerialism of contemporary universities, a situation which, I have argued, represents one of the main conditions of possibility for the decade-plus long cultural studies publishing ‘boom’.

Still, I do not mean to imply that practitioners of cultural studies should cease holding constructive, critical dialogues with publishers about the nature of their editorial and commercial practices, much less underestimate the importance of maintaining institutional ties to book publishing as series editors, reviewers, advisors, and so forth. Whatever ongoing dialogue and decision-making takes place in book publishing, however, needs to happen alongside practical critiques of the university and its relationship to capitalism. Fortunately, many intellectuals working in cultural studies also happen to work there and hold, for lack of a better word, bureaucratic positions. By ‘practical critiques’ I mean recognizing and seizing upon the institutional authority these bureaucratic posts confer upon us. Indeed, as committee members, curriculum designers, department chairs, administrators, library advisors, and so forth, we stand to influence, to varying degrees, the mundane, day-to-day decision-making that takes place at universities. The corporate university did not just fall out of the sky. Rather, it resulted—and continues to result—from these mundane, micro-level decisions. My sense is that this ‘politics of the bureau’ (Bennett, 1998: 33), however unsexy and banal it may seem, nevertheless offers a practical means whereby intellectuals can begin to challenge the ‘mundane but devastating changes in the organization of everyday life in universities’ precisely where they get constituted and maintained (Morris, 1998b: 81).


I am grateful to Rebecca Barden, Sophy Craze, Jayne Fargnoli, Julia Hall, Lesley Riddle, and Ken Wissoker for taking the time to speak with me, to answer my questions about cultural studies and academic book publishing, and for supplying me with catalogs and other materials helpful to this study. This essay would not have been possible without their participation, which I gratefully acknowledge. I would also like to thank Lawrence Grossberg and Meaghan Morris for their generous intellectual and practical contributions to this piece.

1. To be fair, Morris’ essay on publishing perils is directed to an audience comprised of graduate students. Clearly, then, her intention is to develop practical ways for graduate students to effect change in their fields as graduate students, rather than to offer ways for scholars in general to publish cutting-edge scholarship.

2. To their credit, Cary Nelson and Ellen Rooney underscore the ways in which academic conferences and professional organizations represent important sites where cultural studies gets institutionalized. More work remains to be done mapping relationships across academic cultural studies and these organizations. Regrettably, it is beyond the scope of this essay to pursue this line of inquiry.

3. In his article on ‘The Routledge Revolution’, Robert Boynton shares the story of a young academic who commended Bill Germano, editorial director of Routledge, for his publishing The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. ‘[T]his book is important‘, she said, ‘because I can show it to my dean and prove to him that the field actually exists. Without it I couldn’t even teach these courses’ (1995: 25). Although just one example, I think it nevertheless speaks to the importance of recognizing how connected the institutionalization of various academic and intellectual currents are to book publishing institutions. I borrow the term ‘intermediaries’ from Sean Nixon (1997).

4. See Meaghan Morris’ (1998a: 501-502) ‘Publishing perils and how to survive them: A guide for graduate students’, for a useful, basic introduction to the history of academic publishing.

5. Unlike most of the trades, Beacon Press operates as a non-profit. I am grateful to Jayne Fargnoli for alerting me to the press’ not-for-profit status.

6. I am particularly indebted to Ken Wissoker, editor-in-chief of Duke University Press, and to Julia Hall at Sage, for explaining the characteristics of the various presses to me.

7. For example, Herman Gray poses the question, ‘Is cultural studies inflated?’ (1996: 203). Yet in posing this question, he neglects to reflect upon the ways in which his own essay participates in the expansion of cultural studies, given its publication in a highly visible Routledge cultural studies reader. Alternatively, Nelson et al.’s introduction to Routledge’s huge Cultural Studies anthology seems hyper-aware of its involvement in institutionalizing/canonizing cultural studies, given how, in the very first sentence, the authors mark the occasion of the book as coterminous with a tremendous intellectual and commercial ‘boom’ in the field (1992: 1). Ironically, the 1992 Cultural Studies anthology often receives more criticism for inflating the field than less critically self-aware collections.

8. I realize that the ‘we’ here is a potentially problematic one, given that many remain excluded from it—particularly practitioners of cultural studies working outside of its usual North-Atlantic, and, to a lesser extent, Australian ‘centers’. It should be understood, then, as a polemical invocation of the term ‘we’; it represents not only an attempt to address those who would recognize themselves as part of this ‘we’ but also an effort to mark that privilege.

9. Morris was careful to identify this boom in cultural studies as something taking place in Australia (147). Still, I think it is fair to say that, at the time of her writing, cultural studies was experiencing a boom throughout the English speaking world. This boom is evidenced by the publication of several highly visible and widely circulated introductions to the field, including Patrick Brantlinger’s Crusoe’s Footprints (1990); Graeme Turner’s British Cultural Studies: An Introduction (1990); Anthony Easthope’s Literary Into Cultural Studies (1991); Grossberg, Nelson, and Treichler’s Cultural Studies (1992); among others (Readings, 1996: 97).

10. Later on in this essay I argue that there exists at times an incongruity between perceptions of this boom in cultural studies and its actual extent, resulting in perhaps over-inflated claims about the fields’ institutionalization. That said, I do not want to deny that there has been a world-wide, quantitative expansion of cultural studies programs, departments, centers, titles, etc., over the last decade or so.

11. There is no particular significance to the 1993-1999 time frame. Rather, my selection was defined by the Routledge catalogs made available to me by Rebecca Barden, Senior Editor for Media and Cultural Studies at Routledge, UK. I am indebted to her for providing me with these materials.

12. Perhaps the most visible of these is the Open University/D318 series overseen by Stuart Hall. The second instalment of the series, Representations, has proven a best-seller for the press. Another—and likely the first—highly visible Sage publication directed to an undergraduate media/cultural studies audience is Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez’s (eds) (1995) Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text Reader.

13. See also Morris, ‘Truth and beauty in our times’ (1998b: 84), for more on the politics of publishing cultural studies textbooks and anthologies.

14. These are approximate dates for which there will of course be a few, notable exceptions.

15. As of 1995, Routledge publishes between 700-800 new books each year. See Boynton (1995).

16. This figure represents the number of new cultural studies titles advertised in the fall/winter 1995 Duke University Press catalog only (i.e. the catalog in which this section was first added).

17. Note that these figures refer only to those titles explicitly included in the designated cultural studies sections of each catalog. This figures does not include titles in gay and lesbian studies, film studies, media studies, etc. that could reasonably be included in cultural studies but were not. I am indebted to Rebecca Barden and Ken Wissoker for supplying me with these catalogs.

18. Lawrence B. Rosenfeld and Julia T. Wood, two of the authors mentioned in this list, happen to work in my home department. Neither maintains any commitment to cultural studies, nor do their publishers.

19. The quotation marks around ‘cultural studies’ in this sentence signal my own uneasiness with identifying these titles as exemplary of work in the field.

20. These cutbacks occur within the context of a university system increasingly unfriendly to labor, exemplified by the fact that part-timers comprise around half of all college teachers, many of whom are egregiously underpaid (Nelson & Watt, 1999: 283).

21. I borrow this term from Readings (1996), who uses it in reference to the terms ‘excellence’ and ‘culture’.

22. I suspect the fracturing of the project of cultural studies in the U.S. may in some ways mirror the fracturing of the Left.

23. Bourdieu and Wacquant attribute the series to Routledge. However, Oxford University Press publishes it—in the U.S., at any rate. I suspect that they may have attributed responsibility to Routledge erroneously.

24. Many voices remain relatively absent even within these centers. Most work in the ‘U.K.’ comes from authors based in England. Similarly, relatively few Aboriginal writers have their work published and distributed outside of Australia.

25. There are, of course, obvious exceptions to this. See, for example, Kuan-Hsing Chen (ed.) (1998); Sakai (1997); and the many writings of Rey Chow.

26. The costs of publishing translated work tend to run much higher than the costs of publishing ‘original’, untranslated scholarship. Professional translations can run anywhere from $60-$150 per thousand words, depending upon the language translated. Additional costs are incurred in paying publishers, agents, and/or authors for rights to translate. Translation costs do tend to decrease, however, when academics or graduate students perform translations. From an economic standpoint, widespread translation is unlikely to occur unless professional academics and graduate students undertake more of that work themselves. Still, this does not begin to circumvent the difficult work of justifying to publishers that a market does exist for unfamiliar work from the geopolitical margins. I thank Rebecca Barden, Senior Editor for media and cultural studies at Routledge, for an inspiring and informative dialogue about translation.


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