Birmingham School

TODD WOLFSON

Rutgers University, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs024

The Birmingham School, formally known as the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham, was an innovative academic enterprise, which led the emergence and development of the field of cultural studies across the latter half of the twentieth century. The CCCS and the intellectual tradition it inspired reimagined how we understand culture and domination, cultivating groundbreaking work focused on the areas of media and communication, youth culture, class, gender, race, and the politics of representation. The Birmingham School includes the work of noteworthy British scholars such as Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Paul Willis, Dick Hebdige, and Angela McRobbie.

Established as a postgraduate research institute by Richard Hoggart in 1964, the initial goal of the Birmingham School was to challenge the cultural elitism of literary theory as well as the positivism of British Sociology, creating an approach that had three components. As Hoggart explained of the different elements of this new field of inquiry, “one is roughly historical and philosophical; another is, yet again roughly, sociological, the third, which will be the most important – is the literary critical” (1970, 255). With abroad agenda and diverse methodologies, the Birmingham School developed a variety of critical approaches for the analysis of cultural artifacts. Perhaps the most enduring legacy ...

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